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The following verdict summaries were reported in Texas Blue Sheet, a weekly publication of The National Law Journal‘s Litigation Services Network and an affiliate of Texas Lawyer. Texas Blue Sheet reports the latest verdicts and settlements across the state. More verdicts can be seen at www.VerdictSearch.com. DTPA Hospital Wins $740,000 On Nov. 8, Harris County District Court Judge John Donovan rendered a $740,000 judgment against U.S. Security Associates Inc. d/b/a Advance Security, U.S. Security Associates Inc. Employee Benefit Plan, First Health Strategies (TPA) Inc., and First Health Benefits Administrators Corp., which included a punitive damage award of $21,000 and a finding that U.S. Security acted fraudulently, intentionally and with conscious disregard for the rights and welfare of Steve Rodriguez, an employee who was treated for a near fatal condition. Memorial Hermann Hospital System filed the suit against the defendants for unfair and deceptive acts. The defendants filed a third-party claim against Rodriguez, who in turn filed a wrongful-termination claim against his employer, U.S. Security. Rodriguez was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and incurred medical expenses in excess of $380,000 at Hermann. As alleged, upon returning to work after being disabled for several months, Rodriguez was told that because of an insurance problem he could not return to work. The judge found unfair claims settlement practices, deceptive insurance practices and wrongful termination of Rodriguez. Rodriguez was awarded $53,800 in damages. U.S. Security alleged that Rodriguez was never its employee and not entitled to be covered under its medical benefit plan. Memorial Hermann Hospital System v. U.S. Security Associates Inc. d/b/a Advance Security, U.S. Security Associates Inc. Employee Benefit Plan, First Health Strategies (TPA) Inc., and First Health Benefits Administrators Corp. v. Steve Rodriguez, No. 1997-45953 (61st District Court, Harris County) Plaintiff’s attorney: Mike Johnston, Sullins, Johnston, Rohrbach & Magers, Houston Defense attorneys: Edward P. Perrin and Jennifer R. Poe, Hallett & Perrin, Dallas Third-party defense attorney: Mason Meyer, Montgomery FRAUD Charity Awarded $2 Million A Dallas jury set damages at more than $2 million on Nov. 8 after it found that a game room operator had hidden profits. As alleged, Oakhill Inc., a charitable organization, rented four game rooms in its Dallas-area bingo halls to Cecil Stephens and his company Signal Peak Enterprises of Texas Inc. In their agreement, Stephens was to give half the profits from the rooms as rent to Bettina Investments Inc., Oakhill’s subsidiary, which would disperse it to more than 20 charities. In July 2000, Oakhill terminated its agreement with Stephens, citing lack of cooperation in auditing his company’s books. Believing Stephens hid profits, Oakhill sued him and his company for fraud and breach of contract. At trial, the plaintiff showed that the rooms earned $700,000 more with another operator in the same period the previous year. Stephens contended that he kept an honest account of the profits. The jury found Stephens was an alter ego for Signal Peak and held him liable for the entire damage amount of $2,044,444, including $1.1 million in punitive damages. Bettina Investments Inc. and Oakhill Inc. v. Signal Peak Enterprises of Texas Inc. and Cecil Stephens, No. 00-06462-C (68th District Court, Dallas County) Plaintiffs’ attorney: Eugene Zemp DuBose, Dallas Defense attorney: Hayward Rigano, Longview MOTOR VEHICLE Wreck Victims Settle for $11,500 Two people injured when their car rear-ended another settled their claim on Nov. 27 for a combined amount of $11,500. Plaintiff Beaudana Marie Foster, 19, was driving northbound in the left lane of Carroll Boulevard in Denton on the morning of Nov. 12, 2001. As she approached a traffic light, the defendant, Jesus Daniel Hernandez, allegedly pulled out of a parking lot and tried to merge between Foster’s car and a car in front of Foster. The car in front stopped for the traffic light, and Hernandez rear-ended it. Foster, unable to stop in time, then hit Hernandez from behind. Foster suffered cervical spine injuries and her passenger, Chris Clements, 25, suffered cervical and lumbar spine injuries. Both sued Hernandez, who was cited for changing lanes when unsafe. The defendant settled with Foster for $6,000 and with Clements for $5,500. Beaudana Marie Foster and Chris Clements v. Jesus Daniel Hernandez, No. GC-2002-00817 (Denton County Court at Law No. 2) Plaintiffs’ attorney: Mark A. Burroughs, Sawko & Burroughs, Denton Defense attorney: Byron L. Falk, Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox, Dallas NEGLIGENCE $2 Million Awarded for Oil Leak On Nov. 21 a Scurry County jury awarded a couple more than $2 million after finding that their land had been contaminated with oil and salt water leaking from pipes. As alleged, after buying a 23,000-acre cattle and horse ranch, Wilford and Wanda Joan Senn soon learned that the pipes running across their land were leaking oil and salt water into the ground, creating an environmental hazard to the animals and nearby Lake Henry. The Senns sued several companies that shared the lines running above their ranch, with all settling except Primrose Operating Co. of Wichita Falls. Primrose defended that it acted as a reasonable, prudent operator of the system and that, even if there were contamination, only a total of 10 acres was damaged. The plaintiff agreed but said that there were 86 spill sites across the lot, causing damage to the whole. The jury awarded $2,110,000 in actual damages to cover the cost of cleanup and devaluation of the ranch, and $86,000 in punitive damages. Wilford C. Senn and Wanda Joan Senn v. Primrose Operating Co., No. 20540 (132nd District Court, Scurry County) Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Bill Robins and William T. Jones, Heard, Robins, Cloud, Lubel & Greenwood, Houston; Paul Smith, Ware, Snow, Fogel & Jackson, Houston Defense attorneys: Kathleen McCullough and Bruce Bangert, Shafer, Davis, Ashley, O’Leary & Stoker, Odessa; Rick G. Strange, Cotton, Bledsoe, Tighe & Dawson, Midland

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