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LEGAL PROFESSION Client stiffed law firm for legal fees In the case of a client who fraudulently induced a law firm to represent her and then opposed its motion to withdraw with more false representations, the firm was awarded $769,124 by a District of Columbia arbitrator on Aug. 18. A. Alexx Giovanni was involved in a lawsuit with her former employer. Giovanni hired Grayson Kubli & Hoffman, of McLean, Va., to represent her. Midway through discovery, Grayson moved to withdraw, claiming that Giovanni had been obstructing discovery efforts. The motion was denied, based in part on Giovanni’s claim that she could collateralize payment of the firm’s fees with real estate she didn’t, in fact, own. Giovanni’s employer received a judgment, and then Grayson Kubli brought the instant action for unpaid fees. Case/Court/Date: Grayson, Kubli & Hoffman PC v. Giovanni,No. 16-181-00028-03 (American Arbitration Association, Washington, D.C.), Aug. 18, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorney:Daniel Schumack, Schumack Ryals, Fairfax, Va. Defense attorney:Theodore Allison, Karr & Allison, Washington, D.C. EMPLOYMENT Man replaced by less experienced, younger workers A man who was terminated while on medical leave and replaced by less experienced, younger workers was awarded $298,678 by a District of Columbia jury on Aug. 4. Langdon Johnson, a 55-year-old director at the Washington Convention Center, was terminated by supervisor Lewis Dawlie, ostensibly because his position would no longer exist after reorganization. Johnson claimed that after he was terminated, WCC hired two less experienced and younger women to replace him. He further claimed that the women hired to replace him performed the same duties and were paid approximately $3,000 a year more than he was paid. Johnson sued WCC and Dawlie for age discrimination and violation of the District’s Family Medical Leave Act and Human Rights Act. Case/Court/Date: Johnson v. Washington Convention Center Authority,No. 01-ca-004677 (Superior Court of the District of Columbia), Aug. 4, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorney:Amy Goldson, Law Office of Amy Goldson, Washington, D.C. Defense attorney:Dwight Murray, Jordan Coyne & Savits, Washington, D.C. CIVIL RIGHTS Arrest based on vague match-up with description A 31-year-old messenger who was arrested and detained by police on suspicion of commiting a violent robbery against 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 the description of a robbery suspect in the area. However, when one of the victims was called to identify him, she said that he was not the robber. 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. The verdict includes loss of consortium for Pitt’s wife. Case/Court/Date: Pitt v. District of Columbia,No. 01-CV-2225 (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), Aug. 22, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorneys:L. Barrett Boss and William Mertens, Asbill, Moffitt & Boss, Washington, D.C. Defense attorneys:David Jackson, Patricia Jones, and Carl Schifferle, Office of Corporation Counsel, Washington, D.C. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Man with cardiac risk not referred for evaluation The estate of a man who died after an acute episode, allegedly as a result of uninvestigated and undiagnosed cardiovascular problems, settled for $120,000 on May 21. Emory Munson, 53, was admitted to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for knee surgery. Prior to the knee surgery, he underwent a preoperative chest X-ray that revealed a prominent left ventricle. However, his estate claimed, no further cardiac evaluation was ordered. Following the knee surgery, Munson underwent physical therapy marked by episodes of dizziness and nauseousness. He was never referred for a cardiac evaluation. His estate sued the United States for medical malpractice. Case/Court/Date: Estate of Munson v. United States of America,No. 02-CV-36 (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), May 21, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorney:Karl Protil Jr., Shulman, Rogers, Grandal, Pordy & Ecker, Rockville, Md. Defense attorneys:James Carroll III and Michael Johnson, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Washington, D.C. MOTOR VEHICLE Company not aware of its driver’s past DUI conviction The families of three victims of a fatal car crash near Staunton, Va., settled their wrongful death claims for a combined $3 million on March 11. Richard Brown, an employee of Tri-Com Inc. in Burke, Va., crashed his company truck into a car driven by Tina Comer, 36, carrying her son, Jeffrey, 18, and Gracie Cash, 7. Brown pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and three counts of aggravated manslaughter. The plaintiffs claimed negligence against Brown and, against Tri-Com, vicarious liability and negligent hiring and retention, asserting that it should have known of Brown’s past DUI conviction. Tri-Com denied any liability, contending that Brown had a valid driver’s license and came highly recommended by his previous employer. Case/Court/Date: Estate of Cash v. Tri-Com Inc.,Nos. 203393, 210669, 210668 (Fairfax County Circuit Court), March 11, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorneys:Bruce Rasmussen and Kevin Ryan, Michie, Hamlett, Lowry, Rasmussen and Tweel, Charlottesville, Va. Defense attorneys:Grady Frank Jr. and Thomas Junker, LeClair Ryan, Alexandria, Va.; Charles Gallagher Jr., DeCaro, Doran, Siciliano, Gallagher & DeBlasis, Vienna, Va. EMPLOYMENT Director fired for enforcing sexual harassment policy A hospital manager who claimed that she was forced out of her position in retaliation for enforcing sexual harassment policies was awarded $4.05 million by a federal jury on Sept. 2. Stephanie Denninghoff, director of operative services at Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk, Va., responded to complaints about the “sexually charged” conduct of a nurse by informing human resources and conducting a counseling meeting with the nurse. The nurse took offense at the suggestion of impropriety, and resigned. Denninghoff was asked to resign three months later, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the hospital. The hospital contended that Denninghoff was let go because of breaches of confidence. The verdict includes $3 million in punitive damages. Case/Court/Date: EEOC v. Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center Inc.,No. 2:02-CV-728 (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk, Va.), Sept. 2, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorneys:Amy Garber and Kenneth Golski, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Norfolk, Va. Defense attorney:William Rachels Jr., Willcox & Savage, Norfolk, Va. Editor’s Note: These jury verdicts were collected and reported by VerdictSearch, an American Lawyer Media affiliate serving lawyers in the D.C. area and nationwide. More information about these cases, as well as full reports on other verdicts and settlements, can be found in theVerdictSearch National Reporter or at www.VerdictSearch.com. For subscription information or jury verdict research call 1-800-832-1900. To submit a case, call (212) 313-9057, fax (212) 313-9145, e-mail [email protected] verdictsearch.com, or use the form at www.VerdictSearch.com/submit.

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