May Jury Verdict Round-Up: Top 5 Personal Injury Verdicts

During May, the attorney editors on the LexisNexis Jury Verdict team covered several notable personal injury verdicts from across the country. This informal list of top five cases captured our attention this past month, so we thought you might like to hear about them. If you are interested in submitting one of your own notable verdicts, we’d love to include a report in our database. You can just send us an email at this address: juryverdictsubmissions@lexisnexis.com. In the meantime, please check out the highlighted cases below. 

1)    Samantha Applewhite, as guardian of the person and property of Tiffany Applewhite, an incapacitated person, and Samantha Applewhite, Individually v. Accuhealth, Inc., Linda Russo, R.N., Emergency Medical Services and the City of New York 2010 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 4165 

In February of 1998, Tiffany Applewhite was a 12-year-old girl who received home nursing care from Accuhealth, Inc. and its employee, Linda Russo, R.N. On Feb. 21, 1998, Tiffany suffered an adverse reaction to a steroid shot that Russo had given her for an eye condition. Tiffany went into anaphylactic shock and her heart stopped. Tiffany's mother, Samantha Applewhite, called 911, and the City of New York sent Fire Department medics in a basic ambulance, without the advanced life support equipment she needed, including oxygen and a defibrillator. Although Samantha stated that she begged the city paramedics to take her daughter to Montefiore Hospital, which was a few minutes away, they allegedly advised her to wait for the private ambulance with advanced life support equipment. It took the ambulance 20 minutes to arrive, and Tiffany was transported to Montefiore Hospital. Tiffany suffered significant brain damage, including paralysis, but is allegedly fully aware of her surroundings and situation.

On Sept. 11, 1998, Samantha Applewhite filed an action individually and as Tiffany's guardian in the New York Supreme Court for Bronx County. She named as defendants the following: Accuhealth, Inc., Linda Russo, R.N., Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the City of New York. According to a New York Times article, Accuhealth later filed for bankruptcy relief and Russo settled out of court following an unsuccessful bid for summary judgment dismissal. 2010 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 9655. In addition, the City also made an unsuccessful motion for summary judgment, which was denied on the grounds that the City was not entitled to immunity from liability to persons to whom it owed a "special duty." 2013 N.Y. LEXIS 1672.

In 2014, plaintiffs' case proceeded to a jury trial on the claims against EMS and the City. On May 23, 2014, the jury returned a staggering verdict for the plaintiffs, awarding them a total of $ 172,381,728.00. This amount included $ 65,000,000.00 for Tiffany's past and future pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. In addition, the award included over $ 90,000,000.00 for future medical care and expense. According to a May 29, 2014 New York Times news article, the City plans to appeal. 

2)   Michael Mercieca v. Tracey Rummel and Microsoft Corporation 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3732

In this action, a Texas State jury awarded over $11 million to a former senior sales executive in his discrimination action alleging constructive discharge stemming from a false claim of sexual harassment. 

Microsoft Corporation employed Michael Mercieca for about 17 years, including his most recent position as a senior sales executive. Mercieca said that he had a sexual relationship over a period of years with a co-worker prior to her promotion as Mercieca's direct manager. Another Microsoft employee allegedly advised Merciaca’s manager that Mercieca was sexually harassing her. The manager then allegedly began to scrutinize and criticize Mercieca's job performance and discriminate against him. Mercieca said that after the false allegations were passed to his upper management, he began to be treated differently. Mercieca filed a complaint with human resources complaining of harassment, hostile work environment, and discrimination based on sex, age and national origin. Mercieca alleged that from that point on, Microsoft's mistreatment and discriminatory treatment of him intensified to include a bad faith investigation of his complaint and a bogus sex harassment charge by his co-worker. Among other things, Mercieca was allegedly subjected to undue scrutiny, denied promotions, denied bonuses and other compensation, questioned regarding his green card status and right to work in the United States, and isolated and ostracized. Mercieca said that the environment at work was so intolerable and stressful that his employment with Microsoft was constructively terminated as a result of being demoted on Feb. 22, 2012. He was then 51 years of age.

On April 6, 2011, Mercieca filed suit in the District Court for the 353rd Judicial District, Travis County, Texas. He alleged claims for slander and conspiracy to slander, discrimination in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, sexual harassment, retaliation, invasion of privacy and respondeat superior and ratification. Judge Timothy M. Sulak presided over a jury trial. On May 7, 2014, the jury found in favor of Mercieca, awarding him a total of $ 11,653,064.24. 

3)   Alvin Notice, as Executor of the Estate of Tiana Notice, v. The Town of Plainville, et al. 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3545

On Jan. 8, 2009, Tiana Notice obtained a judicial restraining order against James Carter, Jr., her former boyfriend, that prohibited him from contracting or communicating with her any way. Police officers allegedly allowed Carter to violate the restraining order on various dates from Jan. 13, 2009 through Feb. 14, 2009. Carter allegedly violated the restraining order by telephoning Tiana Notice at her workplace, threatening her in emails, making false reports against her, slashing her tires, and delivering an eerie message at her door on Feb. 13, 2009. On Feb. 14, 2009, Plainville Police Officer Mark Connoy allegedly telephoned Carter and alerted him to the fact that Tiana Notice had just reported a violation of the restraining order to the police, despite knowing that Carter had pleaded with Tiana Notice to not tell the police. Connoy purportedly first consulted with his shift supervisor, Sergeant Richard Marques, before making the call. On Feb. 14, 2009, Carter stabbed Tiana Notice to death outside of her home. She was 25 years of age at the time of her death.

In an action initiated by the filing of a complaint on Jan. 13, 2011, on June 3, 2011, Alvin Notice, as Executor of the Estate of Tiana Notice, filed a revised complaint in the Connecticut Superior Court of the Judicial District of Hartford against the Town of Plainville; the City of Waterbury; the Town of Bloomfield; Town of Plainville Police Department Chief Daniel Coppinger, Detective David Posadas, Sergeant Dean Cyr, Sergeant Richard Marques, Sergeant Charles Smedick, Sergeant Timothy Mullaney, Officer Greg Barrett, Officer Mark Connoy, Officer Gregory Arvai, and Officer Gary Miller; City of Waterbury Police Department Chief Neil O'Leary, Sergeant Michael Dethlefsen, Sergeant David Sheehan, and Officer Victor Leon; and Town of Bloomfield Police Department Chief Betsy Hard and Officer Anthony Lustrinelli. Alvin Notice alleged a wrongful death negligence claim pursuant to C.G.S. §§ 52-555 and 52-557n(a) and claims for statutory indemnification against the Town of Plainville, the City of Waterbury, and the Town of Bloomfield and sought compensatory damages, interest and costs, and other relief deemed proper by the court.

After a jury trial presided over by Judge Grant Miller, on April 28, 2014, the jury found that Arvai, Connoy, and Marques were negligent but Arvai was entitled to governmental immunity. The jury further found that Sheehan and Leon were negligent and not entitled to governmental immunity. The jury assigned the percentage of fault as 25% for Connoy, 35% for Marques, and 40% for individuals from the Waterbury Police Department. The jury awarded $ 10,008,085 total in damages. 

4)   Jane Doe, et al. v. John Knox Presbyterian Church, et al. 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3737

An Oklahoma state jury awarded $ 2 million to a toddler and her family in a negligence action against a child care facility that failed to disclose a former employee’s suspected child abuse to new employer. Here, the employee allegedly broke the leg of an eight-month-old child while she was working at the Kirk of the Hills Mothers' Day Out program. When she was hired by John Knox Presbyterian Church, Kirk of the Hills failed to share knowledge about the employee even when contacted for a reference. 

While working for John Knox, the employee allegedly sexually assaulted the toddler so badly that she required surgery to repair her injuries. Although John Knox and the employee settled the claims against them, the Doe family pursued legal claims against Kirk of the Hills through a state proceeding filed in the District Court for Tulsa County, Oklahoma. After a jury trial presided over by District Judge Linda G. Morrissey on May 9, 2014, the jury found for plaintiffs and against Kirk of the Hills for $ 2,000,000, which included $ 1,500,000 for Baby Doe, and $ 250,000 for each of her parents. 

5)   Lora A. Bennett v. Kevin P. Shea; Kevin Shea, Ltd., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 4370


This suit resulted in an eye-popping $1.2 Million verdict against an attorney for legal malpractice. Here, a Virginia state jury found in favor of Kevin Shea’s former client, Lora A. Bennet, who alleged that Shea committed legal malpractice and breached his contract with her by failing to enter an appearance in her divorce case or become attorney of record. As a result of Shea's alleged failure to enter an appearance, Bennett lost the opportunity to argue for possession of the couple's marital residence, vehicles, and other personal property. Bennett also forfeited all eligibility or entitlement to spousal support, retirement benefits, or military medical benefits

On April 6, 2010, Bennett filed her suit against Shea and his firm in the Virginia Circuit Court for the City of Newport News. Bennett sought damages of $ 2,500,000, interest, and costs of suit. During the pendency of the action, Bennett filed a motion for summary judgment as to Shea's negligence. On Sept. 13, 2010, Judge John Clarkson granted the motion for summary judgment, finding Shea failed to act as reasonable, prudent, licensed attorney would have acted and was liable for Bennett's losses.

A jury trial on the issue of damages was held in May of 2014. On May 21, 2014, the jury awarded Bennett $ 1,200,000 in damages against Shea and his firm. According to an article in the Virginia Daily Press, Shea planned to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court on the grounds Judge Clarkson's order granting summary judgment was improper and the issue of negligence should have been decided by a jury. 

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