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CONSTRUCTION Homeowners class settles damage claims A class of 380 residents of 193 homes in an Ohio development settled their breach-of-contract action against the builder for $3 million on Feb. 20. The class claimed that shoddy construction and design problems made the exterior walls of their homes susceptible to water vapor and condensation, causing water intrusion and mold damage. The class also claimed that the houses in Mason, Ohio, were built in violation of the building code. The builder paid most of the settlement; third-party defendant subcontractors paid the rest. Martinez v. Drees Preferred Collection Inc., No. A-000-1553 (Hamilton Co., Ohio, Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Timothy C. Sullivan, Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, Cincinnati; Robert S. Fischer and Jonathan D. Sams, Sams, Fischer & Schuessler, Mason, Ohio DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Richard T. Lauer and Jonathan P. Saxton, Rendigs, Fry, Kiely & Dennis, Cincinnati EMPLOYMENT Scientist gets $300,000 on sex harassment claim A scientist who claimed that she endured sexual harassment by her trainer was awarded $300,000 for emotional distress by an Indiana jury on Feb. 25. Kelly Coolidge began working for the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency in 1998. She claimed that within a month of working with David Willoughby, he began making sexual comments, vulgar jokes and disparaging comments about women. She claimed that, on one occasion, he grabbed her head and pushed it into his crotch. Coolidge complained to her direct supervisor, the lab director and the deputy lab director. She claimed that no investigation was ever conducted, and that she was forced to work with Willoughby until his retirement. Coolidge v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County Ind., No. IP-01-1836-C-M/S (S.D. Ind.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Richard L. Darst, Cohen Garelick & Glazier, Indianapolis DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Suzannah Overholt, Indianapolis city attorney’s office LEGAL PROFESSION Lawyer let case lapse after taking retainer fee A client whose lawyer took no action on a pending claim until the statutory five-year period for bringing the matter to trial had expired was awarded $171,000, including $151,000 in punitives, by a California jury on March 4. John Wankum, a former city engineer for Calexico, Calif., retained William Macklin to sue the city for wrongful discharge. Macklin filed the claim in April 1993. In August 1996, Macklin ascended to the bench and El Centro, Calif., solo practitioner Carolyn Sue Janzen took over the case. Janzen requested and received a $7,500 retainer fee, then failed to bring the case to trial within the statutory period and did not inform Wankum that time had run out. Wankum sued for malpractice and fraud. Janzen claimed she earned her fee. Wankum v. Janzen, No. L00921 (Imperial Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Randal M. Barnum, Benicia, Calif. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Carolyn Sue Janzen, pro se, El Centro, Calif. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Docs liable for not seeing abused infant’s injuries A Maryland hospital and three doctors were found liable for $5.03 million after failures to diagnose injuries to an infant that had left him with brain damage and permanent partial paralysis. The Feb. 13 verdict backed claims that doctors at Civista Medical Center failed to detect a hematoma, resulting in the infant, then 11 months old, being placed a second time in the care of a babysitter who was later convicted of child abuse. Hematoma is considered to be an indicator of shaken-baby syndrome. The infant’s parents twice brought him to be examined, without diagnosis, before the infant had to be sent to the hospital after being left in the babysitter’s care again. The defendants claimed that no CT scan was necessary the first time because the infant was normal. Sprague v. Reddy, No. C01-2355 (Charles Co., Md., Cir. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Robert J. Weltchek and Christian A. Lodowski, Weiner & Weltchek, Lutherville, Md. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Andrew Gwynn Bowie Jr. and Douglas Schraeder, Wharton Levin Ehrmantraut & Klein, Annapolis, Md.; Michele L. Smith, Adelman, Sheff & Smith, Annapolis NEGLIGENCE Father runs over son on job, church found liable A father running over his son with a lawnmower resulted in a $1.2 million verdict against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Lamoni Riordan, age 5, was playing on the lawn in front of a Kansas City, Mo., church when his father, a church employee, ran over his right foot with a riding lawn mower. The father claimed that the mower was difficult to shift and stop, and that as he backed up around a tree, he saw his son and could not stop in time. Lamoni’s right forefoot was amputated. He sued the church, claiming its employee failed to exercise adequate care in mowing the church’s lawn. The church claimed that Lamoni’s injuries were caused by his father’s failure to supervise his son properly. Riordan v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, No. 02-02960-CV-W-3 (W.D. Mo.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Victor A. Bergman and Matthew Birch, Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Kansas City, Mo. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Robert Best, Husch & Eppenberger, Kansas City, Mo.; Joseph Knittig, Seyferth & Knitting, Kansas City More information about these cases, as well as full reports on other verdicts and settlements, can be found in the VerdictSearch Publications or at www.VerdictSearch.com. To submit a case, call (800)352-8412, fax (212)313-9145 or use the form at http://www.verdictsearch.com/jv3_submit_a_case. For subscription information or jury verdict research, call (800)832-1900.

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