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CIVIL RIGHTS Police officer who raped woman must pay her $300,000 A federal jury on June 19 awarded $300,000 to a woman who was raped by an armed, uniformed police officer who offered her a ride. The woman claimed that Larry Pugh, an officer with the city of Jacksonville, picked her up as she walked home from a friend’s house and took her to an abandoned trailer house, where the rape occurred. Pugh was arrested and later convicted of sexual assault but not before he assaulted the woman a second time, almost a year and a half after the first attack. The woman sued Pugh, the city and its former police chief. The suits against the city and police chief were dismissed on summary judgment. The award against Pugh included $250,000 in punitive damages. Lewis v. Pugh, No. 6:06cv357 Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Plaintiff’s Attorney: Curtis B. Stuckey, Stuckey Garrigan & Castetter, Nacogdoches Defense Attorneys: Jeffery Scott Clark, Jacksonville; Bobby Lance Vincent, Ritcheson, Lauffer, Vincent & Dukes, Tyler EMPLOYMENT IHOP workers obtain default judgment for sexual harassment A federal judge on May 22 awarded $160,000 to four female employees of International House of Pancakes, who claimed that their manager fondled and tried to kiss them. The Title VII suit was brought on behalf of the four women by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Da Fa Shanghi Inc. d/b/a International House of Pancakes. The women alleged that their manager asked them out on dates, attempted to kiss them, touched their breasts and buttocks, tried to get them to touch his groin and offered to pay them for sex. They further claimed that some of them were fired after filing criminal complaints. The defendant did not appear in the suit, and a default judgment was entered against it. The award of $160,000 was to be split evenly among the four women. EEOC v. Da Fa Shanghi Inc., No. 05:3364 Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Kathy Megas and Mark L. Mitchell, Law Offices of Mark L. Mitchell, Houston; James Sacher, EEOC, Houston Defense Attorney: No appearance GROSS NEGLIGENCE Day care pays $750,000 to parents of child scalded by hot water The parents of a toddler who was scalded by hot water at day care received $750,000 in a settlement. Karli Freudenberg was in day care at the Merryhill School in Dallas when she suffered first- and second-degree burns from hot water that spilled on her from a slow cooker. The plaintiffs maintained that the cooker was sitting near the edge of a counter with its cord hanging down and was knocked over while a day care employee had her back turned. The school argued that the accident was unavoidable or, in the alternative, was Karli’s fault, as she may have pulled the cord. The settlement was reached on June 8. Freudenberg v. Nobel Learning Communities Inc., No. 4:06-cv-00094-RAS Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: James A. Fisher, T. Wesley Holmes and Andrew T. Turner, Fisher, Holmes & Turner, Dallas Defense Attorney: Kevin L. Wentz, Wentz & Zavarelli, Irving MOTOR VEHICLE Jury believed defendant’s story of phantom vehicle A Wharton County jury on June 8 found for a defendant who blamed a motor vehicle accident on a phantom vehicle. Lawrence Victor swerved into the lane of Angelita Pena Valdez on Highway 59, and Valdez lost control of her vehicle, left the highway, went into the median and rolled. Valdez sued Victor, claiming he made an unsafe lane change and forced her off the highway. Victor alleged that another vehicle had suddenly changed lanes to exit the highway, forcing him to swerve into Valdez’s lane. The investigating officer testified that although Victor was the only witness to the phantom vehicle, he believed Victor, and the phantom vehicle was included in the report. The jury found that Victor was not negligent. Valdez v. Victor, No. 41415 Court: 23rd District Court, Wharton County Plaintiff’s Attorney: John Maher, Law Office of John Maher, Wharton Defense Attorney: J. Christopher Diamond, Cooper, Sprague, Jackson & Boanerges, Houston SEXUAL ASSAULT Teen sexually assaulted by fast food manager recovers $750,000 A teenage girl who alleged that her assistant manager at Burger King sexually assaulted her was awarded $750,000 at a jury trial in Tarrant County on June 20. The plaintiff claimed that the manager assaulted her on three occasions during work hours. She sued the owner-franchisee of the restaurant, Metro Restaurants LLC, Dallas, alleging that it failed to perform a background check on the perpetrator and, if it had, would have learned that he had a criminal history. The defense argued that the plaintiff consented to sex with the manager and did not report the incidents to the restaurant. The plaintiff’s counsel countered by arguing that under Texas law a 15-year-old cannot consent to have sex with an adult. Polley v. Metro Restaurants LLC, No. 209582-04 Court: 48th District Court, Tarrant County Plaintiff’s Attorney: Greg Fitzgerald, Bedford Defense Attorney: Gregory G. Jones, Law Office of Gregory Jones, Grapevine 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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