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EMPLOYMENT Man claimed sleep problems were protected under the ADA A disability claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act by a budget analyst who had trouble sleeping due to an allergic rash was rejected by a federal judge on Aug. 26. Charles Haynes was terminated from his position with the D.C. Department of Budget and Planning because of irregular attendance and late arrivals to work. He blamed his attendance problems on a reaction to airborne pathogens in the department, resulting in itching-induced insomnia. He claimed that his inability to sleep constituted an “impairment that substantially limited a major life activity,” the ADA’s definition for disability. Judge Reggie Walton disagreed, holding that the District was justified in terminating him. Case/Court/Date: Haynes v. Williams, No. 01-454 (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), Aug. 26, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorney: David Branch, Law Office of David Branch, Washington, D.C. Defense attorney: Mary Pivec, Greenberg Traurig, Washington, D.C. EMPLOYMENT Female librarian claimed that her accomplishments were overlooked The Library of Congress was found not liable on Nov. 24 for gender discrimination. Joan Higbee began working for the library in 1976. In 2000, she sued it under Title VII, contending she did not get the same type of work as her male colleagues, who were often given the opportunity to give tours of the rare-book collection while she rarely was. She also contended that when she uncovered missing Harry Houdini material, she did not receive the same recognition as her male colleagues would have had they made a similar discovery. The defendants denied the lack-of-recognition claim, and contended that she didn’t have as many years of experience in the rare-book area as her male counterparts. The jury found no proof of gender discrimination. Case/Court/Date: Higbee v. Billington, No. 00-3114 (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), Nov. 24, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorney: David Shapiro, Swick & Shapiro, Washington, D.C. Defense attorney: Pamela Huff, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Washington, D.C. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Plastic knee implants began to deteriorate Four senior citizens whose plastic knee implants wore out were awarded a total of $4.8 million in damages and interest by a Virginia jury on Nov. 6. All the plaintiffs underwent knee replacement surgery in 1999 and, within a year, complained of uncharacteristic pain and irritation. They made products liability claims against the implant manufacturer, Howmedica Inc., its then-parent company, Pfizer Inc., and another Pfizer subsidiary. The plaintiffs contended that an obsolete sterilization process was used, causing the implants to become unstable, and that the defendants concealed this fact. The defendants denied any intentional conduct. Undisclosed settlements were reached with two successor companies. Pfizer and its subsidiary were jointly and severally liable. Case/Court/Date: Galzerano v. Pfizer Inc., No. 193739, 195090, 194920, 193804 consolidated (Fairfax County Circuit Court, Va.), Nov. 6, 2003 Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Gary Mims, William Snead III, Ann LaCroix Jones, and Mark Towery, Snead & Mims, Fairfax, Va. Defense attorneys: Richard Barnes, Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, Baltimore, Md.; Ralph Campillo, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, Los Angeles; James Frederick, Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, Baltimore, Md.; Steven Routh, Hogan & Hartson, Washington, D.C.; Mark Yacano, Wright, Robinson, Osthimer & Tatum, Richmond, Va. EMPLOYMENT AOL fired woman while she was on pregnancy leave On her Title VII and Family Medical Leave Act discrimination claims against America Online, a former project manager was denied recovery by a federal jury on Nov. 20. Colleen Al Mukhtar, while out on pregnancy leave, was terminated by AOL, which claimed that her position was selected for a round of layoffs. Al Mukhtar contended she was in a protected class because she was pregnant, and that she suffered an adverse action � being terminated � because of the pregnancy. She claimed she was never even notified, but returned to find that she was no longer employed. AOL contended that the position was eliminated because, after analysis, it was decided that it had the least impact on the day-to-day operations in the department. Case/Court/Date: Al Mukhtar v. America Online Inc., No. 03-59-A (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria, Va.), Nov. 20, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorneys: Elaine Bredehoft and Janet Vecchia, Charlson Bredehoft, Fairfax, Va. Defense attorney: James Banks, McGuire Woods, McLean, Va. IMMIGRATION LAW Immigration detainee claimed he was kicked by jail personnel A man accused of attempting to enter the country with a fake passport failed to convince a federal jury that his incarceration in a Virginia jail violated his constitutional rights. Malik Jarno, whose age was in dispute, was in the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., for 10 months where he was allegedly subjected to excessive force, including being kicked by various officers. He sued them, along with the Piedmont Regional Jail Board, various employees of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United States. The defendants denied mistreatment or lack of training, and the jail board, its superintendent, one of the officers, and all the federal defendants were dismissed before deliberations. The Nov. 13 verdict found in favor of the remaining three officers. Case/Court/Date: Jarno v. Lewis, No. 02-1622-A (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria, Va.), Nov. 13, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorneys: Paul Kiernan and Jennifer Mason, Holland & Knight, Washington, D.C.; Denise Gilman and Eliza Platts-Mills, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Washington, D.C. Defense attorney: Carlyle Wimbish III and Margaret Hardy, Sands Anderson Marks & Miller, Richmond, Va.; Dennis Barghaan, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alexandria, Va. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Baby diagnosed with Erb’s palsy after vacuum extraction A girl who sustained Erb’s palsy during delivery was awarded $7.2 million by a Virginia jury on Sept. 22, though the award will be reduced to $1 million due to the medical malpractice cap in place when she was born. In 1994, Kimberly Pritchett went to a Portsmouth, Va., hospital where Cynthia Mobley, of Elizabeth River OBGYN, Norfolk, Va., used a vacuum extractor to help deliver Pritchett’s daughter, Brittany. Eight hours after the delivery, a pediatrician diagnosed Brittany as having Erb’s palsy, a condition caused by a tearing of the spinal nerves. Pritchett sued Mobley and Elizabeth River OBGYN, alleging that Mobley prematurely used the vacuum. The defendants maintained that the natural force of labor caused the baby’s injuries. Case/Court/Date: Pritchett v. Mobley, No. L00-1272 (Portsmouth City Circuit Court, Va.), Sept. 22, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorney: William Artz, Arlington, Va. Defense attorney: John Heilig and Robert Moreland, The Heilig Firm, Norfolk, Va. PREMISES LIABILITY Econo Lodge guest severed tendon on finger on refrigerator top A guest who severed the tendon on his middle finger in an Econo Lodge hotel was awarded $94,500 by a Virginia jury on Aug. 20. Thomas Ballowe was staying in the Norfolk, Va., Econo Lodge. He rested a pizza box on top of the refrigerator, and when he went to remove the box the next day, he sliced his left middle finger on a strip of metal on top of the refrigerator. He claimed that a protective plastic guard that covered the metal strip was missing. Ballowe sued the franchise owner, the Chandani Corp., Norfolk, for negligence. Chandani claimed that it did not have notice of the missing guard. At trial, Ballowe had a Chandani official testify that the maids were instructed to clean the refrigerator, and that the hotel therefore had notice. Case/Court/Date: Ballowe v. Chandani Corp., No. LP1234 (Richmond City Circuit Court, Va.), Aug. 20, 2003 Plaintiff’s attorney: T. Vaden Warren Jr., Marks & Harrison, Richmond, Va. Defense attorney: John Kilcarr, Arlington, Va. Editor’s Note: These jury verdicts were collected and reported by VerdictSearch, an American Lawyer Media affiliate serving lawyers in the D.C. area and nationwide. 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. For subscription information or jury verdict research call 1-800-832-1900. To submit a case, call (212) 313-9057, fax (212) 313-9145, e-mail [email protected], or use the form at www.VerdictSearch.com/submit.

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