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ASBESTOS Gasket, packing maker liable for $6.4 million The estate of a retired steel mill worker who died two months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma was awarded $6.4 million in compensatory damages by an Ohio jury on Nov. 21. From 1965 to 1971, Clyde Blandford, 75 when he died, had been exposed to gaskets and packing made by Garlock Sealing Technologies that contained chrysotile asbestos. His estate claimed that the Palmyra, N.Y., company had failed to issue adequate safety warnings despite its alleged prior knowledge of asbestos-related health risks. Garlock argued that there is inconclusive scientific proof that chrysotile asbestos can cause mesothelioma. The estate also sought punitive damages, but the jury found no malice on Garlock’s part. Blandford v. Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, No. 437948 (Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Ladd R. Gibke, Carl Money and Richard I. Nemeroff, Baron & Budd, Dallas DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Matthew O’Connell, Sutter, O’Connell, Mannion & Farchione, Cleveland; John A. Turlik, Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, PhiladelphiaEMPLOYMENT Online execs get share of AOL Europe’s sale Two former executives of Bertelsmann A.G., the German media company, on Dec. 11 were awarded a minimum of 209,310,000 euros ($254.6 million based on that day’s conversion rate) by a California jury after alleging that they were not paid their share of the proceeds from the sale of AOL Europe to AOL Time-Warner. Andreas von Blottnitz and Jan Henric Buettner contended that when they were hired to work for Bertelsmann, they were promised an equity interest in the yet-to-be created AOL Europe. As such, they asserted that they were entitled to a share of the profits from its sale. The company maintained that the duo were only promised participation in a company profit-sharing plan and not equity in AOL Europe. Buettner v. Bertelsmann A.G., No. 01038215 (Santa Barbara Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: William C. Price and John B. Quinn, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Los Angeles DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Anthony Murray, Peter S. Selvin and Mark Campbell, Loeb & Loeb, Los Angeles MEDICAL MALPRACTICE $20 million awarded for facelift disfigurement A facelift patient who was diagnosed with a disfiguring disease years after her surgery, and her husband, were awarded $20 million by a federal jury on Dec. 8. Dong Cha performed the facelift on Mary Hayes, 48, in his Woodbury, N.J., office. Within a month, Hayes began to show signs of infection, and Cha started her on a course of topical medications. However, the swelling, infections and open wounds on her face continued. For two years, they were suppressed with antibiotics, but not cured. Six years later, she was diagnosed with mycobacteria fortuitum (a condition akin to leprosy and necrosis), which has left her permanently disfigured. The Hayeses sued Cha, claiming that he did not clean his surgical instruments between operations. Hayes v. Cha, No. 00-CV-1101 (D.N.J.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Frank Allen, Archer & Greiner, Haddonfield, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Robert Donnelly Jr., Dughi, Hewitt & Palatucci, Cranford, N.J. Doctor failed to tell teen of possible hysterectomy A foreign exchange student from France for whom an exploratory surgery to confirm a suspicion of pelvic inflammatory disease turned into a total hysterectomy, and her parents, were awarded $792,000 by a Florida jury on Dec. 8. Stephanie Dumas, then 16, claimed that ob-gyn Ronald Thompson told her that at worst he might have to remove only the left ovary, still leaving her with a chance at children, although he denied saying this. When Dumas came to, she learned that a total hysterectomy was performed. Thompson argued that, after the operation began, conservative antibiotic treatment did not work. The plaintiffs countered that a post-operation pathology revealed no disease of ovaries or uterus. Dumas v. Thompson, No. 05-2001-CA-020375 (Brevard Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: S. Sammy Cacciatore, Nance, Cacciatore, Hamilton, Barger, Nance & Cacciatore, Melbourne, Fla. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Anne F. Lunsford, Ormond Beach, Fla. MOLD Seller of condo hit with contamination award A condo owner who claimed that she was forced to move as a result of mold contamination was awarded $285,000 by a Massachusetts jury on Nov. 14. Katrine Stevens purchased her Gloucester, Mass., condominium from Pirates Lane Condominium Trust, and, within days of moving in, her body started to itch, her face turned red and she had difficulty breathing. Her doctor advised her to move out. Testing on the condo showed that water had seeped into areas in and around her unit and caused mold. She had to discard most of the items in the unit and claimed medicals and lost income. Pirates Lane argued that it cleaned up the mold and that Stevens’ asthma was pre-existing. Stevens v. Pirates Lane Condominium Trust, No. 96-04-03 (Essex Co., Mass., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Robert J. Doyle, Steinberg & Doyle, Boston DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Paul J. Gillespie, Gillespie & Associates, Lynnfield, Mass. NEGLIGENCE Cemetery company settles with families Service Corporation International Inc. (SCI), the Houston-based cemetery operating company, on Dec. 5 settled a class action brought by families charging that it had desecrated graves at two Florida cemeteries. The company agreed to pay $100 million to resolve the class action and 15 individual suits. The class had charged that SCI secretly buried remains in locations other than the plots purchased, crushed down concrete burial vaults to make room for additional vaults in the same space, buried remains on top of each other or side-by-side, and mixed body parts from different individuals. The acts were said to have occurred at the Menorah Gardens and Funeral Chapels in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla. SCI contended that that the actions taken were a legitimate response to families’ concerns regarding adequate plot space or the work of individual employees acting on their own. Light v. SCI Funeral Services of Florida Inc., No. 01-21376 (Broward Co. Fla., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Ervin Gonzalez and Julie Kane, Colson Hicks Eidson, Coral Gables, Fla.; Neal Hirschfeld and Kenneth Sobel, Greenspoon, Marder, Hirschfeld, Rafkin, Ross & Berger, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Samuel Danon, Barry Davidson and Christina Ng, Hunton & Williams, Miami; Dennis O’Hara and James E. Zloch, Wicker, Smith, O’Hara, McCoy, Graham & Ford, Fort LauderdalePRODUCTS LIABILITY Truck caught fire after fuel tanks switched The parents and estate of a 7-year-old girl who burned to death when the truck in which she was riding caught fire were awarded $45 million by a Texas jury on Nov. 21. The verdict is against Stoneridge Inc., the maker of a fuel tank selector valve. Before trial, however, the plaintiffs reached a confidential high-low agreement with Ford Motor Co. The girl, Amor Mata, and her friend were passengers in her friend’s parents’ Ford F-150 pickup. The vehicle caught fire the moment her friend’s mother, Mary Barrera, switched fuel tanks. Evidence showed that Amor was briefly conscious after the truck burst into flames. Her friend also died and both sets of parents sued Ford and Stoneridge, alleging that a defective tank selector valve had caused the blaze. Stoneridge argued that the original valve, which it made for vehicles with plastic fuel lines, had been replaced with a Stoneridge valve meant for vehicles with rubber hoses. The Barreras, who not only lost a daughter but were themselves badly burned, settled with Ford and Stoneridge for an undisclosed amount. Mata v. Stoneridge Inc., No. 01-11-17707 MCV (Maverick Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Jose Ruiz, Robert Lee, Maribel Flores and Cge Ritchie, Ruiz & Associates, Eagle Pass, Texas; Thomas Crofts, Crofts & Callaway, San Antonio DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Larry A. Coffey, Dunn, Weathered, Coffey, Rivera & Kasperitis, Corpus Christi, Texas; Robert E. Valdez, Ray, Valdez, McChristian & Jeans, San Antonio; Chris A. Blackerby, Brown McCarroll, Austin, Texas; Reagan Simpson, King & Spalding, Houston 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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