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CONTRACTS Vineyard fires couple in breach of 3-year contract A California vineyard breached a management contract after firing husband-and-wife managers and is liable for $255,421, a state jury ruled on March 11. Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer, said they entered into a three-year deal with the Bryant Family Vineyard Ltd. to operate the vineyard for $250,000 a year. They alleged that the winery breached the pact by asking them to leave after the first year and not paying the contract remainder. The vineyard claimed the accord was terminable at will. Turley v. Bryant Family Vineyard Ltd., No. 26-193736 (Napa Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Philip Terry, Carle, Mackie, Power & Ross, Santa Rosa, Calif. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: John Musgrave, Harry Welford Jr., Thompson Coburn, St. Louis MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Doctor denied recovery after clinic suicide try A cardiologist who sustained brain damage after trying to hang himself in a psychiatric clinic was denied recovery by a New Jersey jury on March 1. In 1999, Ted Schwarz, 47, was taken to Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead, N.J., after taking too much Xanax. After he was admitted, he announced that if he had a gun, he would kill himself. He was placed on constant suicide watch but, a day later, was placed on “five-minute checks.” He was observed borrowing a belt, with which he later tried to hang himself. He and his wife sued the clinic, the doctor who placed him on five-minute checks and staff members who heard him discuss suicide yet let him keep the belt. Schwarz v. Carrier Clinic, No. L-1036-00 (Morris Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Daniel J. Pomeroy, Mortenson and Pomeroy, Springfield, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Raymond J. Fleming, Sachs, Maitlin, Fleming & Greene, West Orange, N.J.; Deborah Pandos, Duran & Pandos, Mountainside, N.J., Sam Rosenberg, Reiseman, Rosenberg & Pfund, Morris Plains, N.J.; John L. Shanahan, Hein, Smith, Berezin, Maloof & Jacobs, Hackensack, N.J.; James Vasios, Vasios, Kelly & Strollo, Union, N.J. MOTOR VEHICLE Driver paralyzed after accident settles for $4M A driver, left paralyzed from the chest down after his passenger van was struck by a truck, settled with the truck owner’s insurer for $4 million on March 1. Victor Ortiz was driving a GMC Safari on the New Jersey Turnpike when he was rear-ended by a box truck driven by Roberto Emiliani for Continental Concession Supplies Inc. Ortiz’s Safari hit the car ahead of him, driven by Hector Rodriguez, 33, who previously settled with Continental for $60,000 and with Ortiz for $5,000. Ortiz v. Emiliani, No. 02-5021 (D.N.J.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Harold George, Sumners & George, Trenton, N.J.; Sharon King and Stanley King, King & King, Woodbury, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Jeffrey Segal and Lawrence Gross, Rawle & Henderson, Marlton, N.J. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Conveyor maker liable for worker’s injuries Injured in a conveyor belt accident, a Florida man was awarded $2.94 million by a federal jury on March 9. The original award of $3.65 million was reduced due to the defendant’s 5% liability and a state statute requiring the calculation of economic damages. Donovan Chang climbed on a conveyor belt at a United Parcel Service (UPS) facility. His foot got caught between the belt’s rollers, crushing his foot and ankle. He sued Alstom Power Inc., which acquired the manufacturer, CE Raymond Inc., claiming the conveyor was unreasonably dangerous. The jury found Alstom 75% at fault and nonparty UPS 20% at fault. Chang v. Alstom Power Inc., No. 03-02500 (S.D. Fla.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Ariel Furst, Law Office of Ariel Furst, Miami; Luis Stabinski, Stabinski & Funt, Miami DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Steven R. Adamsky, Elana B. Goodman, Mitrani, Rynor, Adamsky & Macaulay, Weston, Fla. Six-year-old paraplegic wins car-defect claim A 6-year-old girl who was rendered a paraplegic when the seat back of a 2000 Lincoln LS crushed in on her back was awarded $47.8 million, including $13.9 million in punitives, by a Georgia jury on March 2. Kelsey Sasser was a rear-center- seat passenger in the car when it was involved in a head-on collision. The three-point restraint held her in place, but the seat back crushed in. The Sassers claimed the latch connecting the seat back to the rear shelf failed to properly engage. They also claimed Ford Motor Co. knew about the problem and did not correct it. Ford countered that Kelsey was sitting in the front seat and was hurt by the airbag. Sasser v. Ford Motor Co., No. 2003-CV-68680 (Fulton County, Ga., Super. Ct.) PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Jeffrey R. Harris, Scherffius, Ballard, Still & Ayres, Savannah, Ga.; Andrew M. Scherffius III, Scherffius, Ballard, Still & Ayres, Atlanta DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Donald H. Dawson, Jr., Kathleen A. Clark, Dawson & Clark, Detroit; Philippa V. Ellis, Owen, Gleaton, Egan, Jones & Sweeney, Atlanta 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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