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EMPLOYMENT Diagnostic center defeats wrongful discharge claim A practice-development manager for a diagnostic imaging center who claimed that she was terminated in retaliation for reporting suspected child abuse and breach of confidential patient information was denied recovery by a Missouri jury on Oct. 22. Julie Mehrer of Diagnostic Imaging Centers P.C. of Kansas City, Mo., claimed that one of the center’s patients was a victim of possible abuse. The claim of breach of confidential patient information was based on a conversation she overheard between the child’s case manager and a friend. Shortly after reporting this to her superiors, Mehrer was laid off and claimed retaliation. Diagnostic denied any retaliation and said the layoff was part of a restructuring. Mehrer argued that she was the only employee terminated as a result of the restructuring, and that Diagnostic posted a job opening with responsibilities similar to hers the day after she was fired. Mehrer v. Diagnostic Imaging Centers, No. 02CV226796 (Jackson Co., Mo., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Stacey Bunck and Frank B.W. McCollum, McCollum & Parks, Kansas City, Mo. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Shirley Edmonds-Goza and Mark Tatum, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Wrongful birth suit settles for $1.75 million The parents of an infant born with a malformed brain settled their wrongful birth suit against an obstetrician and sonogram technician for $1.75 million on Oct. 23. Eight months after his birth, Carmine Battista was diagnosed with the condition, known as holoprosencephaly (failure of the forebrain to develop properly). The plaintiffs alleged that a sonogram taken at 16 1/2 weeks showed the condition, but that Dr. Jeffrey Reinkraut and technician Janice Lynch failed to diagnose it. As a result, the parents claimed that they were denied the option of terminating the pregnancy. Battista v. Reinkraut, No. BER-L-007463-00 (Bergen Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Rachelle L. Harz, Goldsmith Richman & Harz, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: E. Burke Giblin Jr., Giblin & Combs, Morristown, N.J. SECURITIES LAW Wachovia settles suit charging breach of duty Wachovia Bank on Oct. 24 settled a breach-of-fiduciary-duty class action filed against it for $23.3 million. First Union National Bank of Charlotte, N.C. (which was later acquired by Wachovia), acquired Signet Banking Corp. in December 1997 and CoreStates Financial Corp. in April 1998. In so doing, First Union became the trustee of 33 common trust funds previously managed by CoreStates and Signet, which it converted into shares of First Union’s Evergreen mutual funds, pledging a tax-free conversion. A class of trust holders accused the bank of restructuring their funds in such a way that millions of dollars in taxable capital gains resulted, despite assurances to the contrary. Parsky v. Wachovia Bank N.A., February Term, 2000 No. 771 (Philadelphia Co., Pa., Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Jeffrey Istvan, Allen Black, Gerard Dever and Jennifer Maas, Fine, Kaplan & Black, Philadelphia DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Daniel T. Fitch and C. Clark Hodgson, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, Philadelphia WRONGFUL DEATH Estate of driver to get $20 million in punitives After settling before trial with the driver of a coal truck and his employer for $600,000, the estate of a driver who was killed in a car accident was awarded $20 million in punitives against the company that loaded the truck. Jimmie Bogue, 53, was driving his sport utility vehicle over a Bessemer, Ala., bridge when a tractor-trailer coming from the opposite direction and rounding a curve lost its trailer, which flipped over, slid along the bridge and hit Bogue’s SUV, killing him instantly. Bogue’s estate claimed Black Warrior Minerals of Brookwood, Ala., had loaded the trailer with a ton more coal than the legal limit. The Alabama jury rendered its verdict on Oct. 24. Estate of Bogue v. Black Warrior Minerals, No. 02-985 (Jefferson Co., Ala., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: E. Clay Hornsby, Morris, Haynes & Hornsby, Alexander City, Ala.; Ralph L. Armstrong, Bessemer, Ala. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Rod Nelson and Monica L. Carroll, Spain & Gillon, Birmingham, Ala.; K. Donald Simms, Austill, Lewis & Simms, Birmingham Chicago police liable for apparent panic shooting A state jury awarded $12 million in damages to the estate of a college student who was shot by police following a chase. The jury’s decision on the wrongful death suit against the city of Chicago came on Oct. 17. Robert Russ, 22, was being chased by a Chicago police car for an alleged illegal lane change. The chase ended with three police vehicles cornering Russ’ vehicle. Officer Van Watts approached Russ’ vehicle, pointed his gun at Russ and ordered him to exit the vehicle and show his hands. The plaintiff claimed Russ’ hand movements caused Watts to panic and shoot him. The city claimed that Watts’ firearm discharged accidentally after a struggle. Russ was found 20% at fault, reducing the award to $9.6 million. Estate of Russ v. City of Chicago, No. 99-L-0006348 (Cook Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Donald Shapiro, Law Offices of Donald Shapiro, Chicago DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Tom Samson, corporation counsel’s office for the city of Chicago

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