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Defamation Doctor receives $6.3 million from former employer A jury on April 10 awarded $6.3 million to a doctor who alleged that his employer defamed him and wrongfully terminated his employment after he reported unethical practices. Neal Fisher, M.D., claimed that his firm, Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants, was deliberately billing its services as “out-of-network” and thus collecting higher revenues. Fisher was fired soon after reporting this. He alleged that Pinnacle accused him of abusing alcohol and drugs and made false claims about his job performance. Pinnacle denied that Fisher’s termination was in retaliation for whistle-blowing or for alcohol or drug abuse. In addition to the jury’s award for defamation, Fisher recovered $2,225,000 in attorney’s fees at a bench trial on his breach of contract claim. Fisher v. Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants P.A., No. 04-12966-L Court: 193rd District Court, Dallas County Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Marty Rose and Michael D. Richardson, Rose Walker, Dallas Defense Attorneys: Mark A. Stinnett and Michael A. Yanof, Stinnett, Thiebaud & Remington, Dallas; Charla G. Aldous, Aldous Law Firm, Dallas Motor Vehicle Company settles after truck driver crashed during U-turn The employer of a truck driver whose U-turn resulted in a crash with an oncoming car settled for $400,000. Darlene Torres was driving in pre-dawn darkness on Highway 31 when she crashed into the back of a 125,000-pound oilfield service truck. She alleged that a driver for Production Enhancement Technology made a U-turn in front of her. The defense contended that Torres fell asleep and ran into the back of the truck. Torres sustained foot, ankle, leg, pelvic and multiple rib fractures. The case settled at mediation on April 25. Torres v. Booth, No. 2006-1513-CCL2 Court: Gregg County Court-at-Law No. 2 Plaintiff’s Attorney: Blair A. Bisbey, Seale, Stover & Bisbey, Jasper Defense Attorney: James Allen Payne, Fairchild, Price, Thomas & Haley, Nacogdoches Motor Vehicle Widow recovers in high-low settlement following defense verdict The widow of a man killed when he was partially ejected from a Toyota 4Runner recovered $45,000 pursuant to a high-low settlement agreement after a Harris County jury returned a defense verdict April 4. The plaintiff alleged that the other driver, Inocencio Paras, failed to stop at a stop sign and that the Toyota he struck was defectively designed in that the retractor on decedent Gert Rau’s seat belt unlocked when the vehicle rolled over, allowing his head to protrude from the window. The defense argued that Rau’s head could have gone out the window without any seat-belt defect and that Rau contributed to the accident by speeding. Paras’ defense was that the sun was in his eyes. The jury found no defect in the vehicle and no negligence on the part of Paras. Estate of Rau v. Toyota Motor Corp., No. 2003-05767 Court: 152nd District Court, Harris County Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Michael D. Weisman, Rebecca P. McIntyre and Franklin Runge, Weisman & McIntyre, Boston; Clyde J. “Jay” Jackson III, Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Matthew & Friend, Houston; Rafael Wilkins, Houston Defense Attorneys: Karl D. Drews, Cooper, Sprague, Jackson & Boanerges, Houston; Kurt C. Kern, David P. Stone and Brian Rawson, Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer & Kern,, Dallas Motor Vehicle Man injured in rear-ender recovers less in damages than sought A Hardin County jury on April 12 awarded $6,782 to a man who sustained a herniated disk when his pickup truck was rear-ended on a highway in Lumberton. Timothy Townley claimed that the other driver, Lauren Burgess, failed to apply her brakes in time to avoid the collision. Burgess stipulated to liability but argued that Townley’s injuries were pre-existing from a motor vehicle accident. Townley sought past and future medical expenses, claiming that he’d need anterior cervical fusion at a cost of $37,000. He also sought $400,000 for pain and suffering. Townley v. Burgess, No. 45,261 Court: 88th District Court, Hardin County Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Tom Moses, Beaumont; B. Adam Terrell, Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell, Beaumont Defense Attorneys: Collin Cobb and Bill W. Sanford, Benckenstein, Norvell & Nathan, Beaumont Wrongful Death Fatal fire kills welder, yields $18.9 million verdict A Dallas County jury on March 23 awarded $18.9 million to the widow and estate of a welder killed on the job. Gordon Rutherford was welding an environmental scrubber made partly of combustible plastic when the plastic caught fire and he was burned to death. His wife and his estate sued Texas Industries, which had contracted Rutherford’s employer for the welding work. The plaintiffs claimed that Texas Industries’ employees failed to warn Rutherford that the scrubber was combustible. They asserted that a similar incident had occurred previously and Texas Industries had been urged to replace the combustible plastic with stainless steel. The defense claimed that Rutherford and his employer were responsible for his safety and denied knowledge that the plastic was combustible. Rutherford v. Texas Industries Inc., No. 03-864-C Court: 68th District Court, Dallas County Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Michael E. Heygood, Heygood, Orr, Reyes & Bartolomei, Hurst; Robert Lee, Lee & Braziel, Dallas Defense Attorneys: Charles W. Hurd and Lee Thibodeaux, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston The verdicts and settlements above are reported and written byVerdictSearch Texas . Send verdicts and settlements to [email protected] . Additional verdicts can be found inVerdictSearch Texas or at VerdictSearch.com, affiliates ofTexas Lawyer .

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