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INTENTIONAL TORTS $15M settlement over children killed in crash Cambridge, Mass. (AP)-The families of four student band members killed in a 2001 bus crash settled a wrongful death suit against two travel companies and their drivers for $15 million. The agreement came one day before a trial was to begin against Boston companies Crystal Transport and Kristine Travel and Tour and drivers Hin C. Kan and Fred C. Pranger. Van Hool, the bus manufacturer, will also contribute to the settlement. The tour bus was carrying 42 children from Oak Hill Middle School to a concert in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, when the vehicle flipped on its side. The driver lost control after speeding. LEGAL PROFESSION Attorney told to pay $3.5M in malpractice suit Minden, Nev. (AP)-A judge has ordered a Nevada lawyer to pay $3.5 million to a Reno doctor in a legal malpractice suit. Judge Michael Gibbons ruled against Herman Herbig after the lawyer failed to respond to a suit filed by Phillip Minton in March. Herbig never appeared in court, and authorities were unable to locate him to serve papers. Minton said that he had hired Herbig in 1994 as his estate planner and turned over financial records and business assets. In April 2003, Minton notified Herbig that he was terminating his services. He asked for the return of records and assets. He estimated that his investments should have earned $810,000, which he also demanded. But Herbig failed to return the assets and records. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE $5.2M award for stroke victim over misdiagnosis A Philadelphia jury has awarded $5.2 million to a 76-year-old stroke victim, whose lawyer claims that her current condition could have been prevented had her doctors paid attention to test results showing a constricted artery in her neck. The jury found that the two doctors, Robert T. Smith and Harold J. Gauthier, were each 50% liable in causing plaintiff Caroline Monaghan’s injuries. Gauthier, the emergency room doctor who treated Monaghan in June 2001, settled for $1.2 million in the spring. Monaghan is limited to collecting $800,000 from Smith, the radiologist she accused of misreading her MRI/MRA imaging tests, and Diagnostic Imaging Inc., Smith’s employer. Each had policies limited to $400,000 of coverage. -alm NEGLIGENCE $2.4M verdict against county worker Canton, Ga. (AP)-A chicken farmer injured in an accident with a county worker has been awarded nearly $2.4 million. But J.D. Thomason will probably never collect all the money from Billy Lee, the employee who caused the accident. Sovereign immunity protects government agencies from having to pay more than their insurance policy coverage. Thomason testified that in 2002, Lee’s county-owned Ford F-350 vehicle ran a red light and smashed into his truck. Thomason, 56, broke ribs, vertebrae, his tailbone and hip. He also suffered a brain injury and blood clots. PATENTS Jury orders Medtronic to pay $400M in punitives Memphis, Tenn. (AP)-A federal jury awarded $400 million in punitive damages to a doctor who accused a medical technology company of infringing on his patents for a surgical device to treat spinal injuries. The punitive damages against Medtronic Inc. are in addition to the $110 million in compensatory damages that the Fridley, Minn., company was ordered last month to pay surgeon Gary Michelson. SHAREHOLDER SUIT KPMG agrees to pay $115M to settle suit Boston (AP)-The accounting firm KPMG and a Belgian affiliate have agreed to pay $115 million to settle a shareholder suit claiming that the companies failed in their audit of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, which later collapsed. In the 1990s, Lernout & Hauspie was recognized as a world leader in software that recognizes human speech and turns it into computer text. But the Belgian company, with U.S. operations in Burlington, Mass., collapsed, admitting fraud, including fabrication of 70% of the sales in its largest unit.

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