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FALSE CLAIMS ACT United States: Researchers at Johns Hopkins overbilled government The United States reached a $2,664,135 settlement agreement with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on Feb. 25 after suing the Baltimore institution under the federal False Claims Act. The government claimed that drug dependency researchers overestimated the amount of time they would dedicate to working on studies for which they received grants and charged more than 100 percent of its employees’ time to federally funded research. The suit also charged that Hopkins was paying its employees one fringe benefit rate, while billing the National Institutes of Health at another rate. The government also claimed that Hopkins failed to have in place adequate compliance mechanisms to prevent overbilling. The defense denied all the claims. Case/Court/Date: United States v. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, No. CCB 99-1448 (U.S. District Court, District of Maryland) Feb. 25, 2004 Plaintiff’s attorney: Roann Nichols, assistant U.S. attorney, District of Maryland, Baltimore. Defense attorney: Stephen Immelt, Hogan & Hartson, Baltimore, Md. NEGLIGENCE TGI Friday’s patron bit on stone in salad, cracked two teeth TGI Friday’s was hit with a $100,000 verdict by a Virginia jury on Oct. 10, 2003. Michelina Windham, an administrative assistant in her 20s, was eating a cobb salad at a TGI Friday’s restaurant in Willow Grove, Va. She bit down on a stone the size of a pinky nail in her salad and cracked two of her two back molars. Approximately six months later, she underwent a root canal, and about 12 months after that she underwent an apicoectomy (mouth surgery). Windham sued TGI Friday’s Inc., Dallas, for negligence, claiming she was served unsafe food. TGI Friday’s admitted liability, but disputed the plaintiff’s valuation of medical costs and the necessity of further treatments. Case/Court/Date: Windham v. TGI Friday’s Inc., No. 209252 (Fairfax County Circuit Court) Oct. 10, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorneys: Edward L. Weiner and Lawson D. Spivey, Weiner & Associates, Fairfax, Va. Defense attorney: John A. Sutherland Jr., Siciliano, Ellis & Boccarosse, Fairfax, Va. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Doctors claimed heart therapy met required standard of care A 60-year-old man was not awarded any damages after he sued his physicians for failing to order pulmonary function tests prior to increasing his dosages of Amioderone. The plaintiff claimed that had these studies been performed, preclinical evidence of diminished pulmonary function would have been detected and the prescription would have been stopped before the toxicity was present. The defense argued that the standard of care has no such requirement except for an initial set of pulmonary function tests that were done in this case. The defense further maintained that Amioderone toxicity is a known but extremely rare complication of Amioderone therapy. The Loudoun County jury reached its defense verdict on Nov. 21, 2003. Case/Court/Date: Unnamed Patient v. Unnamed Doctors, No. 28198 (Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court) Nov. 21, 2003. Plaintiff’s attorney: Gorman E. Getty III, Getty Law Offices, Cumberland, Md. Defense attorney: Brian Rhatigan, LeClair Ryan, Alexandria, Va. EMPLOYMENT Immigrant employees called derogatory names at plant The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of a class of black employees who claimed they were called terms like “sand nigger,” “black monkey,” “beetle eater,” and “camel jockey,” settled its Title VII race and national origin discrimination suit for $1.1 million. The Hugh O’Kane Electric Co., based in New York, hired several black employees for its Beltsville, Md., office. Over the next two months, a class of 31 of the employees, many of whom had emigrated from such countries as Cameroon and Nigeria, claimed they were subjected to the racial epithets from certain white managers. The class also claimed that some of them were fired solely based on their national origin. The defendant denied the racial slurs and claimed that the firings were legitimate. Case/Court/Date: EEOC v. Hugh O’Kane Electric Co., No. L-02-CV-2503 (U.S. District Court, District of Maryland), Aug. 8, 2003 Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Ronald Phillips and Cecile Quinlan, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Baltimore; Stephen Mercer, Sandler & Mercer, Rockville, Md. Defense Attorney: Michael Petkovich, Jackson Lewis, Vienna, Va. (The above is a corrected version of an item that first appeared in the Feb. 23 issue on Page 26.) 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) 313-9180, fax (212) 313-9145, e-mail [email protected], or use the form at www.VerdictSearch.com/submit.

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