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ANIMALS Verdict for Mustang driver who collided with horse A driver who sustained a fractured vertebra in a collision with a horse was awarded, along with her husband and son, $1.3 million by a South Carolina jury on Jan. 9. Anita Lehew, 42, an accountant, was driving her late-model Mustang in York County, S.C. Her 10-year-old son was a passenger. Three horses owned by Cathy Curtin scampered out onto the road. Lehew struck one of them. Lehew; her son, who suffered minor injuries; and her husband, who claimed loss of consortium, sued Curtin, claiming that she forgot to lock the gate. Summary judgment was granted on liability. The award included $1.17 million for Lehew, $90,000 for her husband and $411 for her son. Lehew v. Curtin, No. 02CP461546 (York Co., S.C., Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Chad McGowan, James C. Anders & Associates, Rock Hill, S.C. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Robert Greene, Charlotte, N.C.; Forest Wilkerson, Rock Hill ASBESTOS $2.4 million awarded in mesothelioma death The estate and wife of a former pipefitter and plumber who died at age 71 of mesothelioma were awarded $2.4 million against a manufacturer of boilers. Clarence Nolan had worked with boilers made by defendant Weil-McLain Inc. of Michigan City, Ind., since 1952. The plaintiffs claimed that the company was, or should have been, aware of the health risks of asbestos-containing boilers and components since the 1940s. It also contended that the company continued to use asbestos-containing components in its products until 1986, well after the first asbestos-exposure standard was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Weil-McLain conceded that Nolan died of mesothelioma caused by asbestos, but denied that its products were the source. Of the Jan. 28 verdict, $1.8 million went to the estate on the wrongful death claims and about $568,000 went to Nolan’s wife. Nolan v. Weil-McLain Inc., No. 01-L-117 (Vermilion Co., Ill., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Bruce Carter, Law Office of Bruce Carter, Fairfield, Ohio; Michael Kaczmarek, Cascino Vaughn Law Offices, Chicago DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Edward J. McCambridge and Cameron D. Turner, Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Chicago; Thomas Cynor, Law Office of William Koziol, Long Grove, Ill.; Anthony M. Goldner, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Chicago; Joseph J. Janatka, McGuire- Woods, Chicago; John J. Kurowski, Cates, Kurowski, Bailey & Shultz, Belleville, Ill.; Lisa A. LaConte, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Peoria, Ill. CONSUMER PROTECTION Temporary employer to return check-cashing fees A company accused of charging its employees unlawful check-cashing fees agreed on Jan. 22 to return $150,000 to the employees, with any remainder going to charity. The Arizona attorney general’s office claimed that, between 2000 and 2002, Labor Ready Inc. of Tacoma, Wash., offered its Arizona employees use of a system of check cashing that charged unlawful fees. To receive cash immediately, the state said, the workers had to cash their paychecks using a cash-dispensing machine that automatically deducted “$1 plus the change” on the employees’ paychecks. For example, a laborer who made $40.50 for a day’s work had to pay Labor Ready $1.50 to have his or her check cashed. The state sued under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and Check Cashers Act. Arizona v. Labor Ready Inc., No. C-2002-3210 (Pima Co., Ariz., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Noreen R. Matts, Arizona attorney general’s office, Tucson, Ariz. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Lee Stein, Fennemore Craig, Phoenix EMPLOYMENT Michigan municipality settles retaliation suit A former michigan city manager who claimed that his termination violated his civil rights and was retaliation for constitutionally protected speech settled his lawsuit on Jan. 23. The city of Benton Harbor, Mich., will pay $250,000. Alex Little, 56, who was employed as the city manager from December 2000 until June 18, 2001, sued the city, the mayor and the members of the city commission, which fired him, alleging that he was voted out of his post after saying, at a commissioners’ meeting that was open to the public, that the law required competitive bids for city contracts, specifically a city sanitation contract that was about to be renewed. The defendants maintained that Little’s statements were unrelated to his ouster. Little v. City of Benton Harbor, No. 02-CV-0629 (W.D. Mich.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Joseph A. Golden and Bradley W. Butcher, Sommers, Schwartz, Silver & Schwartz, Southfield, Mich. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Charlette Pugh-Tall, city attorney, Benton Harbor, Mich. Laid-off manager wins on age bias claims A laid-off business unit manager was awarded $376,580 by a federal jury on his state and federal age discrimination complaints, on Jan. 15. Durwood Currier began working for United Technologies Corp. in 1979. In 2000, at age 61, he was laid off. He sued, arguing that he was the only business unit manager selected for termination during the round of layoffs and that the company took age into consideration when selecting employees for layoff. The East Hartford, Conn.-based company argued that Currier testified at trial that no employee had ever made any age-biased comments to him or treated him differently than any of his colleagues with similar job duties. The award included $275,000 for pain and suffering; the rest was for lost wages. Currier v. United Technologies Corp., No. 02-107-P-H (D. Me.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Louis B. Butterfield, Olafsen & Butterfield, Portland, Me. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Peter Bennett, The Peter Bennett Law Firm, Portland; Danielle Y. Vanderzanden, Day, Berry & Howard, Boston State troopers prevail on reverse race bias claims Two delaware state troopers who alleged that they were not promoted because of racial quotas were awarded a total of $357,800 by a federal jury on Jan. 16. Officers William Bullen and Jeffrey Giles, both white, claimed that they were next in line to be promoted as per their scores on standardized tests. They alleged that the governor of Delaware, in response to intense political and media pressure, stepped into the process and ordered the promotion lists frozen. Under newly created lists, the first two officers promoted were minorities. Bullen and Giles sued the state and the state police for race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1983. The defense argued that no quotas were imposed and that the reason the officers were not promoted was because there were no vacancies in higher positions for them to fill. Bullen v. Chaffinch, No. 02-1315-JJF (D. Del.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Thomas S. Neuberger and Stephen J. Neuberger, Thomas S. Neuberger, Wilmington, Del. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Edward T. Ellis, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, Philadelphia MEDICAL MALPRACTICE $1 million for delayed diagnosis of cancer A woman who claimed that treatment of her breast cancer was delayed approximately eight months was awarded $1 million against two of her physicians, reduced to $800,000 for her 20% comparative negligence. Monica Ochoa, 35, alleged that after receiving negative mammogram results on a lump in her breast, she was told to return to the doctor only if she experienced pain or growth of the lump, which she did not. She sued her primary care physician, Irene Duarte of Tucson, Ariz., and radiologist Kenneth Sandock, who both claimed that Ochoa failed to follow instructions to return if the lump was still present in a month, which it was. The Arizona jury’s Jan. 16 verdict found Sandock 60% at fault and Duarte 20% at fault. Ochoa v. Duarte, No. C20020425 (Pima Co., Ariz., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Barry M. Davis and JoJene E. Mills, Piccarreta & Davis, Tucson, Ariz. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Tom Slutes, Slutes, Sakrison & Hill, Tucson; Christopher J. Smith, Smith Law Group, Tucson Failed diagnosis results in $4 million award A woman who claimed that her ob-gyn failed to diagnose diverticulitis, leaving her with a flaccid abdomen, was awarded $4 million by a New York jury on Feb. 2. Plaintiff Maryann Ammann, 61, claimed that Judith Mittleman failed to make a differential diagnosis when she presented her with complaints of lower quadrant pain. Mittleman performed laparoscopic surgery pursuant to a sonogram showing an ovarian cyst. Within a week of the surgery, Ammann developed necrotizing fasciitis due to a perforated bowel resulting from diverticulitis. She underwent a colostomy and several other procedures. Mittleman argued that there was no diverticulitis when Ammann first visited her with pain. Ammann v. Mittleman, No. 6471/00 (Queens Co., N.Y., Sup. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: James F. Wilkens, Duffy, Duffy & Burdo, Uniondale, N.Y. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Michael T. Ivone, Ivone, Devine & Jensen, Lake Success, N.Y. MOTOR VEHICLE Family of deceased motorcyclist settles The family of a motorcyclist killed in an intersection collision settled its wrongful death and survival claim for $2.5 million on Feb. 11. Larry Jennings, 55, was riding his Harley-Davidson when he was struck by a pickup truck driven on an intersecting road by Larry Robertson in the course and scope of his employment for O’Reilly Automotive. On impact, the motorcycle became embedded in the side of the pickup, and Jennings flew over the top. Gravely injured, Jennings died 10 days later. O’Reilly Automotive contended that another vehicle had prevented Robertson from seeing Jennings’ motorcycle, and backed this contention up with an eyewitness account. Jennings v. O’Reilly Automotive, No. 03CV165666 (Boone Co., Mo., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: William Rotts, Rotts & Gibbs, Columbia, Mo. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jeffrey O. Parshall, Ford, Parshall & Baker, Columbia, Mo. Hit by friend’s vehicle, man receives $570,000 A man who sustained a fractured vertebrae and ribs, among other serious injuries, when his friend landed a snowmobile on him was found by a Wisconsin jury on Jan. 13 to have sustained $814,564 in damages. The amount was reduced to $570,195 after taking the plaintiff’s contributory negligence into account. David Stamm, 24, was snowmobiling with three friends at about 1 a.m. The friends became separated and Stamm went back up the mountain to find them, going slightly off the marked path. One of his friends, Jeffrey Prochnow, blindly jumped a hill at about 30 mph and landed on the front of Stamm’s vehicle. Prochnow argued that Stamm was contributorily negligent for leaving the trail and for failing to keep a proper lookout. Stamm v. Prochnow, No. 02-CV-0650 (Walworth Co., Wis., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Eugene K. Hollander and Robert E. Sidkey, Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, Chicago DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: James M. Ryan and Dustin T. Woehl, Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik, Milwaukee PRODUCTS LIABILITY $18.5 million for fire caused by defect in fan The father and estate of a man who died in a fire caused by a defective switch in a box fan were awarded a total of $18.5 million by a Texas jury on Jan. 21. Michael Labar, 41, a manager at Whataburger, left work and went home to bed. A fire erupted. Firefighters found Labar in the shower stall, fully clothed, with burns on his feet and smoke in his lungs. He had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Lakewood Engineering & Manufacturing Co., maker of the fan, denied that its product was defective and disputed whether it was even on. The plaintiffs claimed that it was Labar’s habit to turn it on when he came home, and their expert testified that the fan could have started the fire even if it were not on. Labar’s father was awarded $10 million for loss of society; the rest went to the estate, including $1 million in punitive damages, which will be capped at $750,000. Labar v. Lakewood Engineering & Manufacturing Co., No. DC-03-25 (Starr Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Roberto L. Ramirez and Raymond L. Thomas, Kittleman, Thomas, Ramirez & Gonzales, McAllen, Texas; Calixtro Villarreal Jr., Rio Grande City, Texas DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Jose E. Garcia and Francisco R. Villarreal, Garcia & Villarreal, McAllen; Tom A. Lockhart, Adams & Graham, Harlingen, Texas TOXIC TORTS Oil companies to pay for contamination of wells The city of Santa Monica, Calif., which claimed that the gasoline additive MTBE had entered into some of its water wells and contaminated city drinking water, settled its claims against various manufacturers, suppliers and refiners, including Shell Oil Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco Corp., for a total of $312.85 million on Jan. 9. Approximately $120 million in cash will be paid to the city and the remainder will be used to design, construct and maintain a water treatment facility to remove the MTBE contamination from the city’s water supplies. The city contended that the defendants knew of the problems with MTBE water contamination but still used the product. The defendants asserted that MTBE was not “defective” in design, and that the city had notice of the claims since 1996 and were therefore time-barred. All of the defendants settled except Lyondell Chemical Corp., a manufacturer of MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether. No trial date has been set. City of Santa Monica v. Shell Oil Co., No. 01CC04331 (Orange Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Duane C. Miller, A. Curtis Sawyer Jr., Tracey L. O’Reilly and Tamarin E. Austin, Miller & Sawyer, Sacramento, Calif; Fred Baron, Baron & Budd, Dallas; Victor M. Sher, Sher & Leff, San Francisco DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Stephen M. Kristovich, Munger Tolles & Olson, Los Angeles; Jon D. Anderson, Latham & Watkins; Ward L. Benshoof, Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish, Los Angeles; Clement L. Glynn, Glynn & Finley, Walnut Creek, Calif.; H. Lee Godfrey, Susman Godfrey, Houston; Matthew T. Heartney, Arnold & Porter, Los Angeles; Alan J. Hoffman, Blank Rome, Philadelphia; Tracie J. Renfroe, Bracewell & Patterson, Houston; David Richman, Stephan, Oringher, Richman & Theodora, Los Angeles; David Schrader, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Roy G. Wuchitech, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Los Angeles 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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