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CIVIL RIGHTS Jail to pay $2.5 million for denial of medication The estate of a prisoner who claimed that the denial of her right to take prescribed medicine constituted negligence and a violation of her 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights settled with a Florida county for $2.5 million on Nov. 10. While incarcerated in the Orange County, Fla., jail for driving without a valid license, Karen Johnson, 43, was not allowed to take her daily dosage of methadone. Four days after she was jailed, she suffered a heart attack and lapsed into a coma. Five days later, she died. The county argued that it was not equipped to handle patients with methadone addictions, that Johnson was properly monitored and that she died from causes unrelated to her methadone withdrawal. Estate of Johnson v. Orange County, No. 6:03-CV-655-ORL-18-KRS (M.D. Fla.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: E. Clay Parker, Law Offices of E. Clay Parker, Orlando, Fla. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Walter Ketcham, Law Offices of Walter Ketcham, Orlando INSURANCE LAW Chubb settles bad-faith claim for $925,000 A pedestrian who sustained a traumatic brain injury when he was struck by a sport utility vehicle on Nov. 3 settled a suit accusing his excess underinsured carrier of acting in bad faith, for $925,000. Robert Israel, who suffered permanent neurological impairment as a result of being hit by the SUV, filed claims with OneBeacon Insurance Co., the carrier for the SUV driver, and MDA Services Ltd., his own underinsured carrier. OneBeacon paid $100,000 and MDA paid $400,000. Israel then pursued a $1 million excess underinsured claim pursuant to his homeowner’s policy with Chubb Insurance, which sat on the accident documentation for approximately nine months, prompting Israel and his wife to sue. Israel v. Chubb Insurance Co., No. BER-L-105-03 (Bergen Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Robert Linder, Law Office of Robert Linder, Englewood, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: John Knodel, Methfessel & Werbel, Edison, N.J. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Earlier settlements will reduce negligence award A 27-year-old woman who claimed that her sickle cell crisis went untreated was awarded $22.6 million in damages by a Florida jury on Oct. 24, but all fault was apportioned to defendants who had previously settled for significantly less. Kyrra N. Casey went to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Fla., complaining of pain in her joints and back. Tests were performed but not read and vital signs went unmonitored. By the next night, she was in a coma, resulting in severe mental and physical impairment. She sued the hospital, her family physician, her treating physician and a hemotologist, arguing that had she been appropriately treated, she would have had no impairment. The defense claimed that nothing they could have done would have prevented her condition. The hospital and the treating and family physicians settled before trial for an undisclosed amount. The hemotologist did not settle, and was found to have no liability. Casey v. Blake Medical Center, No. 2001-CA-4388 Division B (Manatee Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: William E. Hahn, Hahn, Morgan & Lamb, Tampa, Fla.; Geoff Morris, Morris, Widman & Keim, Venice, Fla. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Tyler E. Batteese and Ronald H. Josepher, Josepher & Batteese, Tampa; James J. Evangelista, Fowler White Boggs Banker, Tampa; Lynn Groseclose, Thompson Goodis Thompson Groseclose & Richardson, Bradenton, Fla.; Mark A. Haskins, Lumpkin & Haskins, Sarasota, Fla. Doctor cleared on claim that he misread EKG A New York jury rendered a defense verdict in the case of a 52-year-old man who claimed that his doctor misread electrocardiogram results that might have indicated an impending heart attack. Plaintiff Alfonso Mercado underwent an EKG after presenting to Good Samaritan Hospital of Suffern, N.Y., for treatment of chest pain. Dr. David Huang reviewed the results and discharged Mercado several days later. Shortly thereafter, Mercado suffered an acute myocardial infarction. He sued Huang and the hospital, claiming that abnormalities in the EKG mandated a cardiac workup. Huang contended that Mercado’s EKG produced nonspecific results that were not necessarily indicative of a cardiac problem. The claims against the hospital were dismissed by the court. On Oct. 30, the jury found for the doctor. Mercado v. Huang, No. 22685/93 (Suffolk Co., N.Y., Sup. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Anthony Mahoney, Wolf & Fuhrman, New York DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Shawn P. Kelly, Kelly, Rode & Kelly, Mineola, N.Y.; Douglas B. Stebbins, Bower, Sanger & Lawrence, New York PRODUCTS LIABILITY Smoker wins $1 million on cigarette cancer claim A smoker who said his cancer was caused by the cigarettes he smoked for 33 years was awarded $1.05 million in damages by a Missouri jury on Nov. 4. The figure represents a halving for comparative fault. In 1964, at age 14, Michael Thompson began smoking Marlboros and continued smoking them until 1992, when he switched to GPC Lights, which he smoked until 1997, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Thompson sued Philip Morris USA Inc. and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the two manufacturers, claiming that the cigarettes were unreasonably dangerous and negligently designed. Philip Morris was found 40% at fault, Brown & Williamson 10% and Thompson 50%. The defendants intend to appeal the judge’s grant of the plaintiff’s motion to decide the case on a comparative, rather than contributory, negligence basis. Thompson v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., No. 00-CV-220555 (Jackson Co., Mo., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Kenneth B. McClain, Scott B. Hall and Donald H. Loudon Jr., Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, Independence, Mo. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Noel C. Capps, Billy R. Randles and David B. Thorne, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Kansas City, Mo; Mary-Jo Middelhoff and Frank C. Woodside III, Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati TORTS YMCA liable for girl found face-down in pool The estate of an 11-year-old girl who drowned in a YMCA pool was awarded $800,000 by a Pennsylvania jury on Oct. 31. Bridgette Evans, 11, was on a class trip at the Brandywine YMCA in Coatsville, Pa. Within an hour of her arrival, she was found floating face-down and unconscious in the pool. She developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and died a month later. Her estate sued the YMCA for negligent supervision, claiming that the head lifeguard, who was himself conducting a swim test at the time, should have assigned more than two lifeguards to watch the pool, which was full of young children. The YMCA claimed that there were enough lifeguards on duty and that they were properly scanning the pool. Estate of Evans v. Brandywine YMCA, No. 01-08195 (Chester Co., Pa., Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Mark Brecher and Susan Morgan, Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer & Brecher, Philadelphia DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mark J. Riley, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Norristown, Pennsylvania District liable for injury during after-school game The estate of a high school student killed during a game after school ended won a $903,719 judgment on a negligent-supervision claim. A Mississippi judge found $1.8 million in damages on Nov. 5, but halved the award after factoring in contributory fault. Blake Munna, a 17-year-old senior at Poplarville High School, and Daina Pierce, a 14-year-old student at the school, retrieved a bucket of balls from the school’s sports equipment shed, which was secured by a lock to which Munna knew the combination. Pierce pitched to Munna, who hit the ball straight back. The ball struck her right temple, causing intracranial bleeding from which she died. Her estate sued the district, claiming that the shed should have been locked by key. The judge found the district 50% at fault and the students each 25% at fault. Estate of Pierce v. Poplarville Municipal Separate School District, No. 2001-0286 (Pearl River Co., Miss., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Jack Culotta and Kevin Larmann, Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, Metairie, La.; Carey Varnado, Montague, Pittman & Varnado, Hattiesburg, Miss. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Walter Dukes, Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, Gulfport, Miss.

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