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COMMERCIAL PAPER Underwriter, note buyers settle fraud class action Promissory-note purchasers settled their class action against an asset-based lending company and its underwriters for $19.9 million on Aug. 6 in Los Angeles. First Lenders Indemnity Corp. (FLIC) sold $72 million worth of 10% notes, claiming that the proceeds would be used to acquire consumer loans and installment sales contracts. The plaintiffs asserted that the disclosure documents misrepresented the relationship between FLIC and Boston Acceptance Corp.; hid Boston’s ownership and control of FLIC and misrepresented the status of an investigation being conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Johnson v. Boston, No. BC179760 (Los Angeles Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Marc M. Seltzer, Susman Godfrey, Los Angeles DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Danny T. Morin, Parker Mills & Patel, Los Angeles; Pamela S. Palmer, Los Angeles; Robert L. Wallan, Pillsbury Winthrop, Los Angeles; David E. Wood, Wood & Bender, Camarillo, Calif. EMPLOYMENT Hospital to pay for firing that wasn’t by-the-book A hospital worker claiming that her layoff was not handled as per the employee handbook on Aug. 18 was awarded $2.2 million by a Michigan jury. In 1969, Geraldine Sobek began working as a candystriper at Saint Mary’s Medical Center in Saginaw, Mich. Over the years, she rose to the position of human resources manager. Facing budget problems, in 2000 the hospital discharged Sobek, 47, in a round of economic layoffs. She sued for age discrimination and for violating a policy of firing the last hired. Her wrongful-discharge claims were dismissed on summary judgment, but Sobek obtained a directed verdict that the hospital did not allow her to apply for other job vacancies and determined damages accordingly. Sobek v. Saint Mary’s Medical Center, No. 00-34048-NZ2 (Saginaw Co., Mich., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Victor J. Mastromarco Jr., Mastromarco & Jahn, Saginaw, Mich. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: William E. Jungerheld, Chaklos, Jungerheld, Hahn & Washburn, Saginaw Taco Bell, workers settle class action over pay Three years of litigation involving Taco Bell employees in Oregon has ended with a $3.3 million settlement. The class action, which originally involved 14,000 employees, claimed that the Irvine, Calif.-based fast-food chain allowed off-the-clock work and unpaid overtime and violated the state’s meal-break laws. A requirement to apply for claimant status reduced the plaintiffs’s ranks to about 1,300, and a 2001 liability verdict against the company on only some of the claims reduced the group further. Preliminary approval of the settlement, which includes $1.8 million in fees and costs, was granted on July 29. Bravo v. Taco Bell Corp., No. 97-08-06832 (Multnomah Co., Ore., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Paul L. Breed, Portland, Ore.; William Rutzick, Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, Seattle DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Robert C. Weaver Jr. and Michael R. O’Connor, Garvey Schubert Barer, Portland INSURANCE Carrier hit with verdict in faulty-machinery case A Florida jury on Aug. 7 awarded $6.8 million to a Miami paper products company that sued its insurer after the carrier denied a business-interruption insurance claim. Texpack Group, which makes paper from recycled paper products, installed new equipment to increase productivity. The equipment failed and brought the plant to a grinding halt. Twenty months later things were still at a standstill and Texpack had to tear down the plant and sell it for scrap. It filed a claim with National Union Fire Corp. for millions of dollars in business-interruption losses and damages to other equipment caused by the defective machinery. National Union claimed that the all-risk policy didn’t cover the losses. Texpack Group v. National Union Fire Insurance Co., No. 01-02006-CA-15 (Miami-Dade Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Alan Dimond, Miami DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Charles Rocco, Clausen & Miller, New York MALICIOUS PROSECUTION Messenger wins award for wrongful detention A 31-year-old messenger who was arrested and detained by police on suspicion of committing a violent robbery on two elderly people was awarded $153,000 in compensatory and punitive damages by a District of Columbia jury on Aug 22. Christopher Pitt was arrested because he partially fit a description of a robbery suspect in the area. However, when one of the victims was called to identify the robber, she said that Pitt was not the one. Nevertheless, Pitt was detained for 11 days and it was 17 days before charges were dismissed. Pitt and his wife sued the city and three officers for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and civil rights violations. Pitt v. District of Columbia, No. 01-CV-2225 (D.D.C.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: L. Barrett Boss and William Mertens, Asbill, Moffitt & Boss, Washington DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: David A. Jackson, Patricia Ann Jones and Carl J. Schifferle, office of corporation counsel, Washington MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Estate wins claim after fall contributes to death The estate of a woman who fell while being transferred from the intensive care unit to an intermediate care unit in a Belleville, Ill., hospital was awarded $950,000 by an Illinois jury on Aug. 13. The estate of Joyce Cretton, 63, claimed that she had told her daughter three days after the fall that nurses at Memorial Hospital of Belleville had her stand up on her own. The estate sued the hospital for wrongful death and survival damages, citing a coroner’s report that attributed Cretton’s death to a brain injury and subdural hematoma. The defense denied that a fall could have occurred, and claimed that the coroner’s report was wrong. The jury found no causation on the wrongful-death claim, but believed that a fall had occurred and awarded survival damages. Estate of Cretton v. Protestant Memorial Medical Center Inc., No. 00-L-64 (St. Clair Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Judy L. Cates and Alan G. Pirtle, The Cates Law Firm, Belleville, Ill. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Edward S. Bott Jr. and Robert L. Duckels, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, St. Louis MOLD Homeowners win suit over faulty roof repair A family that claimed that mold grew in their home due to water intrusion after their roof was repaired was awarded $30,000 from a California jury on Aug. 8. The Goodkind family alleged that Wergeland Roofing of San Carlos, Calif., negligently repaired their roof, allowing water to come into the home and mold to grow. Wergeland denied any causal link between its work, the mold observed in the home and the Goodkinds’ alleged injuries. Goodkind v. Wergeland, No. 421636 (San Mateo Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: F. Anthony Edwards, Seibel, Finta & Edwards, Walnut Creek, Calif. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Robert B. Lueck and Christopher E. Brumfiel, Boornazian, Jensen & Garthe, Oakland, Calif. NEGLIGENT SECURITY Bar liable for its handling of fight between patrons A man who lost vision in one eye after a fight outside of a Minneapolis bar was awarded $1.9 million by a Minnesota jury on Aug. 20. Dorrick Roy, 28, and some of his friends were ejected from Banana Joe’s after one of Roy’s friends was involved in a fight. Roy claimed that the establishment forced both sides in the dispute to leave through the same door. Once outside, the man who had fought with Roy’s friend hit Roy in the face with a bottle. Roy sued Banana Joe’s for negligent security. The bar contended that it was not responsible for the act of the assailant. Roy v. Banana Joe’s of Minnesota Inc., No. PI02-002220 (Hennepin Co., Minn., Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Paul Downes, Sieben, Grose & Vonholtum, Minneapolis DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Timothy Leer, Johnson & Condon, Minneapolis These jury verdicts were collected and reported by VerdictSearch, an American Lawyer Media affiliate serving lawyers nationwide. More information about these cases, as well as full reports on other verdicts and settlements, can be found in the VerdictSearch National Reporter or at www.VerdictSearch.com. To submit a case, call (212) 313-9057, fax (212) 313-9145 or use the form at www.VerdictSearch.com/submit. For subscription information or jury verdict research, call (800) 832-1900.

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