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DISCRIMINATION Wider aisles for disabled is outweighed by cost Citing the cost that would be sustained by a department store chain, a California judge ruled on Nov. 4 that the chain is not required to widen its aisles to create 32-inch spacing to provide better access for wheelchair users. Sacramento-based Californians for Disability Rights alleged that Mervyn’s violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disability Act and state codes because its aisles could not accommodate wheelchairs. The retailer argued that widening the aisles of each of its 125 California stores would cost so much it would force it out of business. The Alameda County judge agreed, noting that such alterations would result in $70 million in lost annual sales and $30 million in lost profits. Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn’s California Inc., No. 2002-51738 (Alameda Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Sidney M. Wolinsky and Monica Goracke, Disability Rights Advocates, Oakland, Calif. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Harold J. McElhinny, Gloria Y. Lee and Linda E. Shostak, Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco; David McDowell, Morrison & Foerster, Los Angeles MEDICAL MALPRACTICE $2.91 million for failure to give cardiac workup The estate of a 37-year-old ear-surgery patient who died during anesthesia was awarded $2.91 million by a Pennsylvania jury on Nov. 12. Bruce Collins was under the care of surgeon Anthony Brutico and anesthesiologist Patrick Grady at Pennsylvania’s Scranton Surgery and Laser Center when his heart rate plummeted. His estate alleged a failure to perform a preoperative cardiac workup, which would have shown clogged arteries, making anesthesia more dangerous. Scranton Surgery’s owner settled for an undisclosed amount before trial. The jury then found Brutico and Grady each 50% liable. Estate of Collins v. Health South Corp., June term 2001, No. 0976 (Philadelphia Co., Pa., Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Kenneth M. Rothweiler and Eric G. Zajac, Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Schleifer, Weinstein & Winkler, Philadelphia DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: E. Chandler Hosmer III, Goldfein & Hosmer, Philadelphia; Noreen Kemether, White & Williams, Philadelphia; Timothy McMahon, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Harrisburg, Pa. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Estate of driver killed by air bag gets $3.3 million The estate of a driver who sustained a fatal chest injury when her air bag deployed was awarded $3.3 million by a Florida jury on Nov. 12. Mayling Semidey, 29, was driving a 1996 Ford Taurus at 15 mph off an exit ramp when she careened into a barrier. The head-on equivalent velocity was stipulated to be 9 mph. Her estate sued Ford Motor Co., claiming that air bags should not deploy at below 10 mph. Ford argued comparative fault, claiming that Semidey was not wearing a seat belt and was fishing around for change when she crashed. The jury found no fault on her part. Estate of Semidey v. Ford Motor Co., No. 02-4758-03 (Broward Co., Fla., Cir. Ct. 17th). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: C. Richard Newsome and Henry N. Didier Jr., Newsome & Didier, Orlando, Fla. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Francis M. McDonald Jr. and Sarah A. Long, Carlton Fields, Orlando Thin pajamas material a factor in woman’s burns A lingerie manufacturer paid $1.75 million to a woman whose pajamas ignited after she dropped a lit cigarette lighter on herself. The flames advanced quickly, and plaintiff Erminia Kirshy sustained burns to more than half of her body. She sued Lady Esther Lingerie Corp., which made the pajamas, claiming that the fabric weight was lighter than indicated in the retail catalog, leading to quicker combustion time. A jury found Lady Esther Lingerie 60% liable and Kirshy 40% comparatively negligent, awarding $2.2 million, which nets out at $1.3 million. However, Kirshy ended up with $1.75 million under the terms of a high/low agreement. Kirshy v. Avon Products Inc., No. 121312/99 (New York Co., N.Y., Sup. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Michael Weinberger, New York DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Saul Wilensky and Scott L. Haworth, Lester Schwab Katz & Dwyer, New York WORKPLACE SAFETY Dispute on owed duty ends with settlement A laborer, who sustained multiple injuries when he fell 25 feet, settled with the owner of the site where he was working for $825,000 on Nov. 5. Rodney Mancero, 31, was performing a reroofing job when the roof collapsed. He sued New Jersey’s Harrison Realty, which argued that, as the owner of the property, not the contractor, it owed no duty to Mancero. Mancero argued that Harrison was the de facto general contractor and, as such, had a nondelegable duty to maintain a safe workplace and ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Mancero v. Harrison Realty, No. MID-L-11312-01 (Middlesex Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: John Keefe Jr. and Gerald Clark, Lynch Martin, Shrewsbury, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Joseph Powell, Parsons, Powell & Lane, Old Bridge, N.J. 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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