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During January, the attorney editors on the LexisNexis Jury Verdict team covered several notable personal injury verdicts from across the country. We came up with an informal list of the top five cases from last month that really captured our attention. 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: email@example.com . In the meantime, check out our choices below.
1) Michael Bolen v. BNSF Railway Company, 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 667
Bolen, a railroad brakeman/conductor, filed a Federal Employers' Liability Act suit in Missouri circuit court (Jefferson County) against his employer, BNSF Railway Co., after a rail yard accident that left Bolen with an amputated leg. Bolen alleged that he tripped and fell over a large rock as he was walking between two sets of railroad tracks during a switching operation, and the train ran over his right leg and left foot. BNSF defended the suit, maintaining that Bolen had acted negligently by either attempting to cross the tracks on the ground or on the railcar and fell onto the tracks. The railroad also claimed that if Bolen had tripped on the rock, it was open and obvious and Bolen was himself negligent for not avoiding it.
Following a trial over which Judge Nathan B. Stewart presided, the jury reached a unanimous verdict in Bolen’s favor, awarding him $12.5 million in damages. According to information provided by plaintiff’s counsel at Schlichter Bogard & Denton in St. Louis, this award is reportedly the largest personal injury verdict in the history of Jefferson County, Mo.
2) Gordon & Holmes, et al. v. Courtney Michelle Love, 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 537
In this California state action, the law firm of Gordon & Holmes and attorney Rhonda J. Holmes filed suit against their former client, grunge rock icon Courtney Love. Plaintiffs alleged that after Love terminated the attorney-client relationship, they refused her request to rehire them. Shortly thereafter, Love used her Twitter account to publish a statement that Holmes was "bought off." Plaintiffs claimed that this was a bribery accusation that harmed its reputation and goodwill. They also maintained that Love used her Internet presence and fame to impute dishonesty or lack of ethics to G&H and Holmes. Plaintiffs asserted a claim of libel per se, reportedly one of the first such cases to arise from a publication on Twitter.
On Jan. 14, 2014, a jury trial began before Judge Michael Johnson in Los Angeles County. On Jan. 24, 2014, the jury returned a defense verdict, finding that Love was not liable on the defamation claim. According new reports published around that time, the jury found that Love had made false statements and that the statements were hurtful, but that she didn't knowingly make them or act with reckless disregard for the truth.
3) William J. Moyle v. Concrete Industries, Inc., et al., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 600
On Jan. 29, 2014, a Nebraska federal jury awarded a substantial verdict to the driver of a pickup truck who suffered a spinal injury in a collision with a Mack truck. The accident occurred when the Mack truck driver made an improper right turn across traffic, slamming his truck into Moyle's vehicle. Moyle's truck was forced off the highway, overturned, and collided with a stop sign and light pole. After Moyle filed suit against the driver and owner of the Mack truck, Moyle’s employer (Mechanical Systems) and its workers' compensation insurer (Acuity Insurance Company) filed an intervenor complaint, asserting that Moyle had been injured while acting within the course and scope of his employment.
Trial began on Jan. 21, 2014, and was presided over by Judge Lyle E. Strom. On Jan. 29, 2014, the jury found in favor of Moyle, awarding him damages of $19,607,486.00.
4) Mary C. Morrin v. Carl G. Koplin, 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 146
In June 2009, James Morrin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his wife, Alice Morrin. At the time of the shooting, James Morrin was under the care of family doctor Carl G. Koplin.
In July of 2011, the executor of Morrin’s estate, Mary C. Morrin, filed a medical negligence suit against Koplin and related medical practices, Healthwise Medical Associates LLP, Fieldstone Family Medicine of Tolland and Tolland Family Medicine, in the Connecticut Superior Court, Waterbury Judicial District. Plaintiff asserted that defendants failed to exercise the proper degree of care and skill by, inter alia, failing to perform a careful psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation, failing to properly and thoroughly evaluate James Morrin's history of insomnia as being secondary to a serious psychiatric condition, failing to diagnose James Morrin's suicidal ideation, and failing to refer him to a psychiatrist and/or psychologist.
The action proceeded to a jury trial before Judge Kari Dooley. On Dec. 19, 2013, the jury returned a plaintiff’s verdict on liability, and on Jan. 6, 2014, the jury awarded $8,008,500 in total damages.
5) C.E., a Minor by and through his Natural Guardian S.E., v. Florida Baptist Convention, Inc. et al., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 669
This Florida state court action was brought to recover damages for injuries suffered by a teenage boy who had been sexually abused by a male Baptist church minister, Douglas Myers. The plaintiff alleged that the minister had a work history of known and reported sexual misconduct with young boys, but that the church and related organizations that hired him had failed to check with his prior employers.
The action was filed in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Fla., and heard by Judge Richard Singletary. The court bifurcated the trial as to liability and damages. On the verdict form of May 17, 2012, the jury found Florida Baptist Convention 51 percent negligent, Triangle Community Church 0% negligent, Bay Street Baptist Church 4% negligent, and Lake County Baptist Association 45 percent negligent for the negligent selection/hiring of Douglas Myers. As to the claim of negligent supervision/retention, the jury found Florida Baptist Convention 15 percent negligent, Triangle Community Church 0 percent negligent, Bay Street Baptist 51 percent negligent, and Lake County Baptist Association 34 percent negligent. The jury found that Myers was not an employee but was an agent of Florida Baptist Convention at the time of the assault.
The damages trial against Florida Baptist Convention was held Jan. 13 to 18, 2014. On Jan. 18, 2014, the jury awarded damages of $12,500,000 to plaintiff, including $2.5 million for past pain and suffering and $10 million for future pain and suffering.
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