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EMPLOYMENT J ury: Layoff was based on age-neutral criteria A Houston jury has found that a local construction firm did not commit age discrimination when it laid off a 53-year-old laborer and kept a younger, allegedly less skilled worker in the same position. Juan T. Gonzalez began working at S & B Engineers and Constructors Ltd. in 1983 as a field carpenter. He was later assigned to warehouse detail. When he was terminated in July 2001, another worker, aged 32, who had also started as a carpenter and moved into the warehouse, was retained. Gonzalez claimed he had more skills and experience than the younger worker. S & B maintained that its decision was based on age-neutral criteria. On Oct. 23, the Harris County, Texas jury agreed. Gonzalez v. S & B Engineers and Constructors Ltd., No. 2002-34533 (Harris Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Robert J. Filteau, Filteau & Sullivan, Houston DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Timothy T. McInturf, Littler Mendelson, Houston INSURANCE Aetna Life hit with $15.5 million verdict Aetna Life Insurance Co. must pay $15.5 million to a staffing service for raising rates without giving proper notice and for not providing accurate financial reports, a Texas jury decided on Oct. 30. Administaff Inc., an employment agency for small and medium-size businesses, alleged that Aetna breached its contract and forced Administaff to agree to the increases by threatening to cancel health insurance immediately for approximately 50,000 employees. Aetna counterclaimed that Administaff agreed in writing to a rate increase and then failed to pay the full amount under terms of the written agreement. Administaff Inc. v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., No. H-01-3802 (S.D. Texas). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Shannon Ratliff, Michael Navarre and Marla Broaddus, The Ratliff Law Firm, Austin, Texas; Patton Lochridge, McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore, Austin DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Scott Carothers, Neil Kelly and John Shely, Andrews & Kurth, Houston MARITIME Carriers not liable for theft under sea act clause In a maritime stolen cargo case, an Oakland, Calif., jury on Oct. 15 returned a verdict in favor of the two defendant common carriers under an exemption of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. In February 2001, 963 cartons of telephone equipment disappeared while en route from Malaysia to Teledex LLC in San Jose, Calif., first via ocean carrier Circle International Ltd., operating as CLX Services, to Oakland, Calif., and then via Arrow Trucking Co. to its final destination. Continental Insurance sued both carriers as subrogor of Teledex. The joint defense at trial was the “Q Clause” of the sea act, 46 U.S.C. 04(2)(q), which exonerates cargo carriers from liability if the cargo is not lost as a result of the carrier’s fault or neglect. The jury found that the loss wasn’t. Continental v. CLX Services, No. 8424260 (Alameda Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Marilyn Raia and Vijay Toke, Bullivant Houser Bailey, San Francisco DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Rex Clack, Sterling & Clack, San Francisco; Kevin Gray, Harrington Foxx Dubrow & Canter, San Francisco MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Family of breech baby settles for $20 million A family that claimed their baby sustained nerve damage as result of a hospital doctor’s failure to perform a Caesarean delivery settled with the hospital’s managing company for $20 million on Nov. 10. Kimberly Ault, 37, gave birth to Kelsey Ann at Evanston Hospital in Illinois. The baby was in a “frank breech” presentation (buttocks down, hips flexed, knees straight, also known as a “pike” position). The Aults claimed the attempted vaginal delivery caused the girl’s head to become trapped in the cervix, and that the doctor applied excessive traction. Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Corp. argued that a significant minority of the medical community were performing vaginal deliveries for frank breech babies. Ault v. Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, No. 99L7731 (Cook Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Barry R. Chafetz, Thomas A. Demetrio and Margaret Power, Corboy & Demetrio, Chicago DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: David Loghnane and Carl Schulz, Johnson & Bell, Chicago NEGLIGENCE Driver gets $286,500 for 18-wheeler collision A driver who claimed a herniated lumbar disc after his car collided with an 18-wheel truck that was changing lanes was awarded $286,500 by a Texas jury on Nov. 6. Andrew Strawser, 20, a college student, claimed that Sharon Louise Miller, a driver for Trucks For You Inc. of Muskogee, Okla., failed to signal before changing lanes. The impact caused Strawser’s car to go out of control and it was then hit again, this time broadside. He sued Miller and Trucks For You. Miller claimed she looked but did not see him, and that she used her turn signal. Strawser v. Trucks For You Inc., No. GN201569 (Travis Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Mike Jacobellis, Clay Dugas & Associates, Beaumont, Texas DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Robert Ramey, Ramey, Chandler, McKinley & Zito, Houston Lowe’s owes $3 million to shopper for foot injury A shopper who claimed that a Lowe’s Improvement Store employee dropped an electrical conduit pipe on her foot, was awarded $3 million by a Pennsylvania jury on Nov. 7. Patricia Pfeiffer, 39, was shopping at a Lowe’s store in Beaver, Pa., when a worker who was getting the 10-foot pipe for her dropped it on her foot. The employee was on an elevated ladder at the time. Pfeiffer and her husband sued the Wilkes County, N.C.-based Lowe’s. The retailer contended that Pfeiffer dropped the pipe on her foot while trying to retrieve it herself. Pfeiffer v. Lowe’s Home Centers Inc., No. 12074-2000 (Beaver Co., Pa., Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Harry Kunselman, Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Potter, Pittsburgh DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Tyler Smith, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, Pittsburgh PREMISES LIABILITY Airport slip-and-fall suit settles for $1 million A woman who sustained a shoulder fracture in a slip-and-fall accident in the Delta Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., settled for $1 million on Nov. 5. Iris Kaplan slipped on a puddle of soda that had pooled on a terrazzo floor. She sued Delta and Airway Cleaners, which provided janitorial services in the terminal. She claimed that Delta had a nondelegable duty to maintain safe conditions in the terminal, and that Airway had an obligation to detect and eliminate the puddle. The defendants argued that the puddle was open and obvious. Each defendant paid $500,000 of the settlement. Kaplan v. Delta Airlines Inc., No. 115083/01 (New York Co., N.Y., Sup. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Clifford J. Stern, Silverstein, Hurwitz & Stern, New York DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: James Gallagher and Joseph Latasso, Gallagher Gosseen Faller & Crowley, Garden City, N.Y.; Thomas Mahr, Kral Clerkin Redmond Ryan Perry & Girvan, Mineola, N.Y. SECURITIES Attorney, CFTC resolve illegal trading allegations The Federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) reached an $8.2 million settlement on Nov. 8 with a Michigan attorney it claimed violated the Commodity Exchange Act. The commission had alleged that from 1999 to 2002, Charles G. Mady of Northville operated a commodity pool without properly registering with the commission, concealed losses and misappropriated investor’s funds. The attorney denied any wrongdoing and that his activities even qualified as commodities trading. He also claimed that he was in the process of repaying debts. The settlement returns to investors $1.2 million from Mady’s liquidated assets (with the remainder to be paid on a 10-year plan). The pact also bars Mady from commodities trading for 10 years and permanently forbids him from trading on behalf of others. Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Mady, No. 02-72364 (E.D. Mich.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Clifford Histed, CFTC Division of Enforcement, Chicago; William Woodard, U.S. attorney’s office, Detroit DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Scott E. Early, Foley & Lardner, Chicago 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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