On March 16, Alton C. Todd, an Alvin solo, was rewarded for his persistence. A Galveston, Texas jury awarded his clients $48.75 million in actual damages in a product liability case that alleged Honda had designed a defective seat belt. With prejudgment interest, the award could balloon to $80 million, says Todd, who handled the case on a contingent-fee basis. He will not disclose his percentage take.

The verdict is the largest state court verdict in the history of Galveston, and that’s saying a lot. With its large working class and union populations, Galveston is one of the best plaintiffs’ venues in the state. The $48 million is also believed to be the second-largest actual-damage verdict in a product liability suit against a car company in Texas’ history, according to product liability lawyers.