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In the year 2000, the jury verdict that was not reduced by trial or appellate courts was a relative rarity. At times, the slices were minor — a matter of trimming a certain portion of an award. At other times, the cuts were so drastic, the award could no longer be considered to be among the top in its category for the year. Those verdicts that were reduced but still remained category leaders are included among the top 40 verdicts for 2000. The following 2000 verdicts were reduced from the stratospheric to the mere pedestrian. TRUCK BUYERS’ PUNITIVES CAPPED BY TEXAS LAW CASE TYPE: Fraud CASE: Sellers v. Chrysler Corp., No. 296-1283-98 (Collins Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $83.5 million; Sept. 15 REDUCED TO: $1.8 million Plaintiffs Jessie and Karla Sellers charged Chrysler Corp. and a Chrysler dealership, Daniels & Fry Motor Co. Inc., with deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract over the sale of a 1997 Dodge Ram 3500. The Sellers bought the truck to use in their family business of transporting horse trailers, but charged that the defendants misled them on the towing capacity of their pickup, said plaintiffs’ attorney Larry R. Boyd of McKinney, Texas’ Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Joplin. The plaintiffs claimed that problems with the truck caused them to lose their business and caused a major depression in Ms. Sellers. On Sept. 15, a McKinney, Texas, jury awarded the plaintiffs just less than $1 million in compensatory damages, then hit Chrysler with $80 million and the dealer with $2.5 million in punitives. On Nov. 14, the trial court applied the Texas cap on punitives, reducing the judgment to $1.8 million. Post-trial motions are pending. TERMITES DAMAGE HOME; COURT EATS INTO AWARD CASE TYPE: Fraud, Breach of Contract CASE: Jet er v. Orkin Exterminating Co. Inc., CV-99-D-608-E (Macon Co., Ala., Cir. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $80.8 million; Aug. 16 REDUCED TO: $4.4 million Artie m. Jeter, an elderly, black woman, bought a contract for termite treatment and control from Orkin Exterminating Co. Inc. in 1977, said plaintiff’s attorney Stephen T. Etheredge of Dothan, Ala.’s Buntin, Etheredge & Dowling. But Orkin provided no services, he charged. In 1984, he added, “one of Orkin’s employees discovered that her house had extensive termite damage,” but instead of repairing it, “sold her a jack job,” to prop her house up and keep it from falling down. In 1988, “Orkin found that her house had been 90% destroyed and could not be repaired,” he said. Orkin then made the decision, rather than to replace the home, he said, to provide a “minimal amount of repair, to keep the house from falling down until after she died.” Ms. Jeter died in December 1999; prior to her death she sued Orkin for fraud and breach of contract. On Aug. 16, an Alabama jury awarded her estate $800,000 in compensatories and $80 million in punitives. On Dec. 10, the trial court remitted this to $4.4 million. The judgment is being appealed. ‘RICKY ROCKET’S JOURNEYS’ FALL TO EARTH CASE TYPE: Breach of Settlement Agreement, Misappropriation of Trade Secrets CASE: Russomanno v. Russo, LC031514 (Los Angeles Super. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $54.23 million; July 13, compensatory; July 20, punitive REDUCED TO: $14.76 million Kindergarten teacher Diane Russomanno developed and wrote a series of children’s books called “Ricky Rocket’s journeys,” which were published in the early 1990s. Russomanno decided she wanted to turn the books into a TV series and sought help from Gianni Russo, said her attorney A. Barry Cappello of Santa Barbara, Calif.’s Cappello & McCann. Russo arranged $12 million in financing from Indonesian backers, then began production of the first episode with Gold Coast Productions, he said. Russomanno, who had creative control, was unhappy with the episode and wanted changes in this first production. She fired Russo, who “ordered the producers to freeze her out and changed the name of the program to A.J.’s Time Travelers,” said Cappello. She was completely forced out of the project, and the program aired on the Fox network under the name A.J. Time Travelers. She sued Fox, Gold Coast, the Indonesian backers, Russo and others. A Los Angeles jury awarded her $8.23 million in compensatories, then added $46 million in punitives a week later. After the trial, three defendants settled and the total award was reduced to $14.76 million. The judgment is on appeal. TOYOTA’S SHARE OF DAMAGES IN AUTO ACCIDENT IS CUT CASE TYPE: Products Liability case: Kumar v. Toyota Motor Corp., 24-C-98-096065/CC3026 (Baltimore City Cir. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $59.75 million, May 12 REDUCED TO: $16 million Prashant Kumar was a front-seat passenger in a 1996 Toyota Tercel, when the driver of a car going the opposite direction fell asleep at the wheel. The Tercel was hit head on and Kumar, who had his seat reclined, “submarined under the seatbelt and his legs hit the end of the car like a pile driver,” said his attorney Michael Morgenstern of Rockville, Md. Both legs were amputated above the knees, he said. Kumar sued Toyota, charging that the seatbelt system was poorly designed and that Toyota had failed to warn that the seatbelt would be ineffective if the passenger seat was reclined. On May 12, a Baltimore jury awarded Kumar $59.75 million, finding design defect and inadequacy of warning, Morgenstern reported. The jury found Toyota 30% at fault and the driver of the other car 70 percent at fault. On Dec. 19, Judge John Carroll Byrnes reversed on the design-defect issue and remitted the verdict to $16 million. AWARD TO NEWBORN VACATED FOR LACK OF CAUSE OF ACTION CASE TYPE: Medical Malpractice CASE: Spano v. Bertocci, No. 24352/97 (Kings Co., N.Y., Sup. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $55.84 million; Feb. 28 REDUCED TO: $2 million Andrea Spano came to Dr. Baldo Bertocci for help with fertility problems. At the time, Spano was taking the drug Depakote prescribed by Dr. Esther Baldinger to control seizures, said plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph Awad of Garden City, N.Y.’s Silberstein, Awad & Miklos. Spano said she informed Baldinger of her attempts to become pregnant, but that Baldinger did not inform her of the risks of birth defects associated with the use of Depakote, Awad said. She became pregnant and prenatal tests indicated that the fetus had spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Baldinger advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but she declined and her son Andrew was born with these defects. Following the boy’s birth, the Spanos sued Drs. Bertocci and Baldinger, charging medical malpractice and lack of informed consent. On Feb. 26, a Brooklyn, N.Y., jury rejected the medical negligence count but found for the plaintiffs on the informed-consent charge. The jury awarded $52.7 million to Andrew Spano and $3.2 million to Andrea Spano, assigning liability at 75 percent to Baldinger and 25 percent to Bertocci. Awad said that before the verdict, Bertocci had settled for $1 million. On Sept. 20, the trial court vacated the entire award for Andrew Spano, determining that he “did not possess a cause of action for informed consent because such claim amounts to a claim sounding in wrongful life.” The court then reduced the award to present value, entering the judgment at just under $2 million. The case is now on appeal. REAL ESTATE DISPUTE BUILDS TOWARD SHOWDOWN CASE TYPE: Breach of Contract CASE: William Lyon Property Management Co. v. Markley, No. 706072 (Orange Co., Calif., Super. Ct.) VERDICT AMOUNT AND DATE: $54.4 million; March 31 REDUCED TO: $22 million While John Markley was working for the giant California home building company William Lyon Co., he conceived and developed an 8,000-unit apartment-house empire, said Markley’s attorney Herbert Hafif of Claremont, Calif.’s Law Offices of Herbert Hafif. Markley was allowed to buy a 10 percent interest in the limited partnerships that owned these apartment houses, he noted, after William Lyon, chief executive of the company, loaned him the money. In the early 1990s, the real estate market in California took a nosedive and Lyon requested that Markley and the other limited partners pledge the apartment limited partnerships “as assets to secure new loans for Lyon,” he said. Markley objected and was fired. Then Lyon attached Markley’s assets, he said. Lyon and his company then sued Markley for $19 million, seeking the return of money loaned to Markley. Markley filed a counterclaim against Lyon and the Lyon companies, including the limited partnerships, charging wrongful termination and seeking payment of his interest in the limited partnerships. During the first trial, in January 1999, said Hafif, the parties agreed to settle. Part of the agreement was that the Lyon interests would “put him back in the partnership as it was in 1992.” But as the negotiations over the terms of the agreement proceeded, he said, Markley discovered that in 1996, the Lyon companies and limited partnerships had signed a 90 percent equity kicker agreement with the banks, making restoration of his partnership rights impossible. Markley sued Lyon, his company and the limited partnerships, for breach of contract. A Santa Ana, Calif., jury awarded Markley and his family trust $54.4 million. This was reduced to $22 million on Aug. 10. Both sides are appealing.

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