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CONSUMER PROTECTION Sears settles auto shop fraud suit for $625,000 Sears Roebuck and Co. Inc. agreed on March 5 to pay $625,000 to settle a suit brought by the state of New Jersey claiming that it charged consumers for services not rendered. The state claimed that, between Jan. 1, 1997, and Oct. 1, 2000, Sears auto shops in the state charged at least 12,500 consumers for rear-wheel alignments on vehicles designed to undergo adjustments to only the front wheels. The state sued Sears under the state Consumer Fraud Act. The state claimed that the difference between what the consumers paid for and what they got was $10. The award includes $500,000 for litigation costs and future consumer affairs initiatives. Samson v. Sears Roebuck and Co. Inc., No. C-144-02 (Hudson Co., N.J., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: David M. Puteska, deputy attorney general, state of New Jersey, Newark, N.J.; Michael A. Shipp, assistant attorney general, state of New Jersey, Trenton, N.J. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Andrew S. Tulumello, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Washington Misled lotto winner gets additional $1.37 million A lottery winner who claimed he was misled into buying useless tickets was awarded $1.37 million by an Ohio jury on March 24. John Struna, 38, went to the Convenient Food Mart in Cleveland and claimed that he asked store owner Harry Singh if he would be paid $100,000 for each ticket if he were to buy 30 tickets for the Buckeye 5 lottery and won. Singh answered affirmatively, Struna claimed. Over the next two years, Struna bought 52 tickets for each of the five weekly drawings. When he won in 2001, he learned there was a $1 million cap on the amount a person could win per drawing. Singh argued that the cap was disclosed on the back of the betting slip. Struna v. Singh, No. 460755 (Cuyahoga Co., Ohio Ct. C.P.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Andrew A. Kabat and Franklin C. Malemud, Reminger & Reminger, Cleveland DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Gary Seewald, Henkin & Seewald, Cleveland INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Medical-device maker wins $134 million verdict A manufacturer of medical devices won a $134.5 million verdict from a federal jury on March 26 on its claims that a competitor infringed four of its patents. Masimo Corp. of Irvine, Calif., contended that Nellcor Puritan Bennett Inc. of Hayward, Calif., developed pulse oximeters containing features covered in its patents. Masimo’s motion-tolerant, low-perfusion pulse oximeters allow the noninvasive monitoring of oxygen saturation and pulse rates for patients with weak blood flow. Nellcor asserted that its motion-tolerant software was different from Masimo’s. Masimo Corp. v. Nellcor Inc., No. CV0006506 (C.D. Calif.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEYS: Joseph R. Re, James F. Lesniak, Karen Vogel Weil and Jon W. Gurka, Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, Irvine, Calif. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Stephen Swinton, Cooley Godward, San Diego; Robert Morgan and Kevin P.B. Johnson, Fish & Neave, New York and Palo Alto, Calif.; Craig N. Hentschel, Arnold & Porter, Los Angeles MOLD Couple gets $1 million for mold from leaky roof A couple who claimed the sellers of a house did not disclose problems with the roof were awarded $1.05 million by a Kansas jury on March 11. In 1998, William and Jeanine Phillips bought a Wichita, Kan., house from Ron and Linda Tyler for $950,000. Before closing, the Tylers signed a disclosure form stating there were no problems with the roof. The Phillipses claimed that, after moving in, they noticed the roof leaked, causing mold to grow in the walls. Phillips claimed allergic reactions to the mold, resulting in skin problems. The couple moved out in March 2003 and had to find other housing. Phillips v. Tyler, No. 03 CV 1813 (Sedgwick Co., Kan., Dist. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Randall K. Rathbun, Depew and Gillen, Wichita, Kan. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alvin D. Herrington, McDonald, Tinker, Skaer, Quinn & Herrington, Wichita PREMISES LIABILITY U.S. settles claim it failed to warn of hot spring The family of a woman killed after trying to retrieve her dogs from unmarked hot springs settled for $1 million on March 24. Lisa Marie O’Shea, 27, was visiting Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nev., with friends, her dog and another dog. They approached the Double Hot Springs, and, after they opened their car door, the dogs ran into the 200-degree springs. Hearing the dogs in agony, O’Shea ran over to help, fell in and sustained severe third-degree burns. She died a week later. Her family sued the federal government, owner of the park, for failure to warn. Estate of O’Shea v. United States, No. CV-N-02-0362-HDM-VPC (D. Nev.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Thomas R. Brennan, Durney & Brennan, Reno, Nev. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Clay R. Mahaffey, Department of Justice, Washington 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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