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Several of the largest verdicts of 2000 did not make the list of the top 40 jury awards of the year because they were awarded against defendants with no — or no readily available — assets. Justice, not damages, was the motivation for litigating these cases. The second-largest verdict of the year nationally — $4.5 billion — came in the human rights lawsuit against Bosnian-Serb military leader Radovan Karadzic. The plaintiffs, 22 torture victims who survived and the families of 17 torture victims who were killed, charged Mr. Karadzic with genocide, war crimes and torture, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jennifer Green of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. On Sept. 25, a New York jury awarded the plaintiffs $4.5 billion; they are now seeking to collect the judgment, but the chances are beyond remote that Mr. Karadzic, still in Serbian territory in the former Yugoslavia, will ever pay any money. Doe v. Karadzic, No. 93 Civ. 878 (S.D.N.Y.). Just weeks before this verdict, on Aug. 10, another New York jury hit Karadzic with a $745 million judgment. In this action, filed in 1993, the plaintiffs were women and children who had been sexually assaulted and raped. The lawsuit charged Karadzic with violations of the 1979 Alien Tort Claims Act and the 1992 Torture Victims Protection Act in the treatment of women, said plaintiffs’ attorney Maria T. Vullo of New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. “As soon as we find some assets, we’ll collect,” Vullo said. But damages were never the point, she added: “The reason was to hold Karadzic responsible for his actions and send a message to the world that genocide was committed against women in Bosnia-Herzogovina.” The plaintiffs, she said, “could not get that trial in their own community because of the genocide he committed.” After the verdict, the court entered an injunction against Karadzic. He did not appeal, Vullo said, so the judgment is final. Kadic v. Karadzic, No. 93 Civ. 1163 (S.D.N.Y.). CLOSER TO HOME In a case arising closer to home, a Massachusetts jury awarded $328 million to the parents of a 10-year-old boy who was raped and killed by two pedophiles. The murderers of Jeffrey Curley were convicted and are now in prison, “so we’ll never get paid,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Lawrence W. Frisoli of Frisoli & Frisoli in Cambridge, Mass. But the judgment against Charles Jaynes and Salvatore Sicari is being used as a stepping-off point for a new wrongful death action against the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and several of its leaders. Jeffrey Curley’s family contends that NAMBLA “encourages its members to rape male children,” and “as a direct and proximate result of the urging, advocacy, conspiring and promoting of pedophile activity by NAMBLA” and its leaders, Jeffrey Curley was murdered. Curley v. Jaynes, No. 99-1647 (Middlesex Co., Mass., Super. Ct.); Curley v. North American Man Boy Love Association, No. 00-CV-10956 GAO (D. Mass.). In a less-direct wrongful death/personal injury action, a South Dakota jury awarded $268 million to a woman whose husband was killed when their car was hit by a driver under the influence of methamphetamines. The plaintiff sued the individual who allegedly supplied the drugs to the driver and a passenger in the other car. On April 20, the jury awarded $6.6 million in damages for personal injuries to Jean Muhs, $12 million to the estate of her husband and $250 million in punitives. But the attorney for the plaintiff did not expect to collect much from the defendant, who had never been charged with any crime related to the accident. Muhs v. Johnson, No. 99-2870 (Minnehaha Co., S.D., Cir. Ct.). The prospects of collection are limited as well for a $113.5 million wrongful death verdict awarded by a Tennessee jury. The parents of Janet Levine March sued their son-in-law, former Tennessee attorney Perry March, charging that he murdered their daughter, his wife, and hid the body. March did not attend the trial, nor was he represented by counsel at the trial. The court entered a default judgment on liability in February, then in April the jury hit March with the big verdict. But collecting any damages is considered unlikely. March has never been charged with the death and no longer lives in the United States. Levine v. March, No. 99P-1676 (Davidson Co., Tenn., Cir. Ct.).

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