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ANTITRUST R.J. Reynolds settles Sherman Act claim A class of 175,000 tobacco farmers agreed on April 22 to settle its lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for $33 million and a promise from RJR to buy 35 million pounds of tobacco per year over the next decade, worth an estimated $700 million. The plaintiffs claimed that, from the early 1990s through 2001, cigarette companies violated the Sherman Act by scheming to bid the same low price at tobacco leaf auctions, then allocating it based on their normal market share. Philip Morris USA and other companies previously settled with tobacco growers for $212 million, attorney fees of $75 million and a promise to buy 405 million pounds over the next decade, a package worth nearly $1 billion in revenues. DeLoach v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 00CV1235 (M.D.N.C.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS: Thomas A. Isaacson, Joseph A. Ostoyich and Alan M. Wiseman, Howrey Simon Arnold & White, Washington DEFENSE ATTORNEY: W. Andrew Copenhaver, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, Winston-Salem, N.C. DOMESTIC RELATIONS Man must pay $567,000 for breaking up marriage A man who claimed that a doctor had an affair with his wife, destroying his marriage, was awarded $567,000 by a North Carolina jury on April 21. In 2003, Michael Kinlaw divorced his wife, Debra, after nearly 10 years of marriage. Kinlaw claimed that, in 1999, his wife, a nurse, began having an affair with anesthesiologist John Harris while the two worked at the same hospital. In July 2000, Debra Kinlaw gave birth to a son, after which her husband had a vasectomy. In 2002, she not only admitted to the affair, but revealed that Harris was the boy’s biological father. Kinlaw sued Harris for alienation of affection and criminal conversation, claiming that Harris encouraged his wife to cheat on him. Kinlaw v. Harris, No. 03 CVS 540 (Robeson Co., N.C., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Steven C. Lawrence, Anderson, Johnson, Lawrence, Butler & Bock, Fayetteville, N.C. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: D. Jeffrey Rogers, Page & Rogers, Lumberton, N.C. EMPLOYMENT Cirque du Soleil settles ADA claim for $600,000 A circus aerialist with HIV who was fired for allegedly posing a direct threat to the safety of other performers settled his wrongful discharge claim for $600,000 on April 22. Matthew Cusick complained to the Los Angeles office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it dismissed him as a health risk, even after its own doctors had declared him safe to perform. Cirque du Soleil contended that it believed it was acting in the best interests of the other performers. As part of the settlement, the circus agreed to provide anti-discrimination training and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward disability discrimination. Cusick v. Cirque du Soleil (EEOC Conciliation, Los Angeles). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, New York DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Scott Abbott, Kamer Zucker & Abbott, Las Vegas MUNICIPAL LIABILITY Man hurt in sled accident is awarded $6.38 million A doctor who was injured after the sled he was on crashed into a drainage ditch was awarded $6.38 million by a Connecticut jury on April 14. Nicholas Stroumbakis took his son sledding on a hill in Greenwich, Conn., next to a convention center. Stroumbakis, then 41, sustained fractures in his back and leg; his son sustained minor injuries. Stroumbakis sued the town of Greenwich for negligence and nuisance, claiming that the town was aware of the ditch, but did nothing to fix it. On both claims, the town was found 75% at fault and Stroumbakis 25% at fault, but the finding will not affect the award if Stroumbakis opts to collect under the nuisance count. Stroumbakis v. Town of Greenwich, No. CV0001816275 (Stamford-Norwalk Jud. Dist., Conn., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEY: Stewart M. Casper, Casper & deToledo, Stamford, Conn. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Valerie E. Maze, assistant town attorney, Greenwich, Conn.; Paul E. Pollock, Bai, Pollock, Blueweiss & Mulcahey, Bridgeport, Conn. PRODUCTS LIABILITY Treadmill user awarded $9 million for mishap A man who injured his back when the treadmill he was running on suddenly stopped was awarded $9 million by an Indiana jury on April 27. The net award was $8.1 million after subtracting a settling defendant’s percentage of fault. Christopher Berrier, 23, was running on a Quinton treadmill in the Fitness Barn, a health club in Portage Township, Ind. He was going about 10 mph when the treadmill, manufactured by QIC Holding Corp., stopped, causing him to slam his head into the display panel and fall to the floor. Berrier, who sustained a herniated lumbar disc requiring three surgeries, sued the club’s operator, Reliable Development Corp. of Valparaiso, Ind., claiming that the machine had previously malfunctioned; and San Francisco-based QIC, which settled for $850,000. The jury found Reliable 90% at fault and QIC 10% at fault. Berrier v. Reliable Development Corp., No. 64D02-9910-CT-2353 (Porter Co., Ind., Super. Ct.). PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY: Kenneth Allen, Kenneth J. Allen & Associates, Valparaiso, Ind. DEFENSE ATTORNEYS: Thomas A. Carton, Bullaro & Carton, Munster, Ind.; William H. Kelley, Kelley, Belcher & Brown, Bloomington, Ind.; Jeffrey H. Smith, Forszt, Pawlowski & Smith, Valparaiso 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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