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CONSUMER PROTECTION Revenge-spam victim takes $252,500 default A man who claimed that he received tens of thousands of unwanted e-mails after asking some spammers to take his name off their list was awarded $252,500 by a Washington state judge on Aug. 25. Nigel Featherston, a retired Microsoft engineer in his 50s, sent faxes and e-mails to Charles Childs and Linda Lightfoot (a/k/a Linda Beasley), instructing them not to send him any more spam. Childs and Lightfoot retaliated by attaching his e-mail address to spam they sent to others. When the recipients of the spam responded, their responses were directed to Featherston’s e-mail account. Featherston claimed that he received 58,000 unwanted e-mails as a result and sued Childs and Lightfoot under the state anti-spam statute. The defendants defaulted. Featherston v. Lightfoot, No. 02-2-32024-4SEA (King Co., Wash., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Richard J. Busch and Paul J. Battaglia, Graham & Dunn, Seattle DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Defendants defaulted Hewlett-Packard beats ink-jet cartridge claim Hewlett-Packard Co. did not deceive customers as to the nature of the ink cartridges it included with a low-priced printer, a North Carolina jury found on Sept. 11. Staples Stilwelle Hughes, an attorney on behalf of a class of North Carolina consumers, alleged that the Hewlett-Packard 712c printer he had purchased came with a full ink cartridge. After learning that it came with a half-full “economy” cartridge, Hughes sued Hewlett-Packard of Palo Alto, Calif., for unfair trade practices under the state consumer protection law. Hewlett-Packard contended that consumers did not expect to receive a full cartridge when they purchased their printer and that the economy cartridge enabled it to reduce the price of the printer considerably. Hughes v. Hewlett Packard Co., No. 01-cvs-46 (Orange Co., N.C., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Richard McCune and Doug Welebir, Welebir, McCune, Parkinson & Jure, Redlands, Calif.; Adam Stein, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Chapel Hill, N.C. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Lawrence Bracken, Hunton & Williams, Atlanta; Robert Cooper and Peter Sullivan, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Los Angeles; Wade Smith, Tharrington Smith, Raleigh, N.C. EMPLOYMENT Demoted police officer settles retaliation claim A New Jersey police sergeant settled a retaliation claim for $712,000 on Sept. 4. Albert Engesser, 51, was suspended without pay for six months and demoted to patrolman by the Parsippany, N.J., police department. He claimed that he was demoted and suspended for refusing to corroborate assault charges against Sergeant Jeffrey Jusko. Engesser sued the town, the police department, the police chief and the deputy chief for retaliatory harassment in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983 and New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The defendants contended that Engesser was disciplined for dereliction of duty. Jusko was administratively cleared. The town’s liability carrier will cover $592,000 in back pay, plus $120,000 to make up the pay and pension differential. Engesser v. Township of Parsippany, No. 99-4831 (WJM) (D.N.J.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Jon Green, Green Lucas Savits & Marose, West Orange, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Sharon H. Moore, Gebhardt & Kiefer, Clinton, N.J.; John Potenza, Addas, Berlin, Kaplan, Dembling, Burke & Potenza, Morristown, N.J. FRAUD $319M win after medical project was abandoned A North Carolina medical technology company won a verdict of $318.75 million from a partner that withdrew from a joint venture. On Aug. 25, a federal jury awarded $106.25 million, tripled under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, on finding that Volumetrics Medical Imaging Inc. of Durham was fraudulently induced to pour money into research and development for a project that never reached fruition. Volumetrics entered into an agreement with ATL Ultrasound Inc. of Bothwell, Va., under which the companies would work together to build an ultrasound machine that would allow doctors to get a three-dimensional view of a patient’s heart. When ATL abandoned the project, Volumetrics sued, claiming that ATL never intended to go through with the project and was only using Volumetrics as a backup in case its planned acquisition of another company fell through. ATL argued that no final agreement on any collaboration with Volumetrics was ever reached. Volumetrics Medical Imaging Inc. v. ATL Ultrasound Inc., No. 1:01CV182 (M.D.N.C.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Mark C. Hansen, Kevin B. Huff and Eduardo M. Penalver, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd & Evans, Washington; Michael P. Kenny, Michael S. Connor and Angela Payne James, Austin & Bird, Atlanta DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Ann M. Anderson, John L. Sarratt and Amie Flowers Carmack, Kennedy, Covington, Lobdell & Hickman, Raleigh, N.C. Lockheed Martin settles federal overbilling claim Lockheed Martin Corp. settled claims of overbilling the federal government for $37.9 million on Aug. 26. The Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor entered into a $3.1 billion agreement with the government to develop and sell infrared targeting and navigation pods for use on fighter jets. Relator Albert Campbell, 50, a cost control chief at Lockheed, approached U.S. attorneys with documents indicating that Lockheed overbilled the United States to cover difficulties it was having meeting production costs because it earned too much profit too soon. The United States sued Lockheed and the company that merged with Lockheed after the alleged overbilling, Martin Marietta Corp. of Raleigh, N.C., for fraud under the False Claims Act. United States v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 95-cv-549 (M.D. Fla.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Joseph Egan and Tobe Lev, Egan, Lev & Siwica, Orlando, Fla.; Andrew Grosso, Andrew Grosso & Associates, Washington DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: James Bensfield and Marylou Soller, Miller & Chevalier, Washington D.C. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Jury awards woman infected during surgery A woman who claimed she sustained a perforated bowel and a septic infection resolved a lawsuit for a total of $358,000 on Sept. 4. Jennifer Garrett, 32, went to Brookwood Medical Center for a tubal ligation reversal. Virginia Houserman, of the group Honea & Houserman, performed the surgery with the aid of hospital nurses and an assistant. Houserman left a sponge inside Garrett, where it remained for eight months. Garrett sued Houserman, her practice, the hospital, its nurses and surgical assistant. Houserman maintained that the nurses gave her an erroneous sponge count. The hospital, nurses and assistant settled prior to trial for $158,000. An Alabama jury found Houserman and her practice liable for $358,000, though the prior settlement of $158,000 will be deducted from that amount. Garett v. Houserman, No. 97-2606 (Jefferson Co., Ala., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Annesley H. DeGaris and Charles Crowder, Cory, Watson, Crowder & DeGaris, Birmingham, Ala. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Richard W. Franklin, Armbrecht Jackson, Mobile, Ala. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Cyclist settles with town and helmet manufacturer A man who sustained cognitive and memory problems after a bicycle crash settled for $750,000 on Sept. 17. Randolph Grossberg, a 53-year-old electrical engineer for a utility company, was riding his bicycle in Livingston, N.J., when his bicycle hit a depression in the pavement, causing him to crash. Grossberg and his wife sued Troxel Cycling & Fitness of San Diego, manufacturer of the helmet Grossberg was wearing, for products liability, claiming that the helmet did not have enough padding on the side. The plaintiffs also sued the township of Livingston, claiming that it was negligent in not fixing the street, which was damaged nine months earlier by Hurricane Floyd. Troxel paid $400,000. The town paid $350,0000. Grossberg v. Troxel Cycling & Fitness, No. ESX-L-5077-01 (Essex Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Jay Rice, Nagel, Rice & Mazie, Livingston, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Donald Davidson, Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, New Brunswick, N.J.; John Russo, DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis & Lehrer, Warren, N.J.

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