During April, 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: email@example.com. In the meantime, please check out the highlighted cases below.
1) Lynette A. Roginski, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Randy R. Roginski v. The Shelly Company, et al., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 1919
On July 27, 2010, Randy R. Roginski, a 41-year-old man, was struck by a car and killed while he was working in a construction zone on I-271 in Summit County, Ohio. At the time of the accident, Roginski was working for Solar Testing Laboratories, Inc. The construction zone was set up by The Shelly Company, a general contractor, and it involved resurfacing work performed by PGT Construction, Inc.
In July of 2011, Randy’s widow Lynette filed an action against The Shelly Company, PGT, the driver and owner of the car that struck Randy, and a number of other individual defendants and insurance companies. Suit was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, OH. Lynette asserted claims of negligence against The Shelly Company and she asserted a claim for intentional tort against Solar Testing. The complaint included a demand for compensatory and punitive damages.
On March 3, 2014, a unanimous jury found in Lynette’s favor, awarding her a reported $39,000,000.00 in damages. The amount included $19,000,000.00 in compensatory damages and $20,000,000.00 in punitive damages. According to a press release from plaintiff's counsel, during trial, they had presented evidence that The Shelly Company cut corners and failed to follow the approved safety plan.
2) Ruth Dopson-Troutt and Frank Troutt v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 2950
On April 9, 2014, a Florida federal jury found that Novartis did not negligently fail to warn of osteonecrosis of jaw risk associated with Aredia/Zometa bisphosphonate drugs. Suit had been brought by Ruth Dopson-Troutt and Frank Troutt following Ruth’s diagnosis of osteonecrosis of the jaw. Ruth, who had taken both Aredia and Zometa, alleged that Novartis knew of the problems associated with the drugs and failed to conduct adequate testing or give sufficient warning that osteonecrosis of the jaw could result.
The action was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, but was moved to Tennessee for discovery as part of Multi-District Litigation ongoing against Novartis. The case was later remanded back to Florida, assigned to Judge Susan Bucklew, and proceeded to a jury trial.
The jury found that Novartis did not negligently fail to provide Ruth’s physician with an adequate warning of the risks of osteonecrosis of the jaw associated with Aredia/Zometa. According to defense counsel, Novartis has won dismissal or summary judgment in more than 250 other Aredia/Zometa cases, complete defense verdicts in seven prior trials, and 24 appellate judgments.
3) John Wisekal v. Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, et al. 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3251
After Darian Wisekal had a Pap smear in August of 2008, the lab slide was sent to Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp). A LabCorp cytotechnologist erroneously interpreted the slide as "negative for intraepithelial lesion and malignancy." Darian died of cervical cancer some three years later, survived by her husband and two daughters.
John Wisekal, Darian's husband and personal representative of her estate, filed a medical malpractice/wrongful death action in a Florida state court. The action was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Florida and assigned to Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Plaintiff claimed that as a result of the misread, Darian Wisekal's cancer spread and became untreatable. Defendants denied a standard of care failure and further contended that the disease which caused Darian's death was not subject to diagnosis in 2008, even if the LabCorp cytotechnologist had interpreted the relevant Pap smear as atypical. Defendants also claimed that Darian and others, including her treating physicians, contributed to any delay in the diagnosis of her cancer.
On April 16, 2014, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiff, finding damages in the amount of $20,870,200 However, the jury found the LabCorp cytotechnologist, Glenda Mixon, to be 75% negligent and Darian Wisekal 25% negligent. The verdict amount after reduction for Darian's comparative negligence was $15,652,650.
4) Lisa Parr, et al. v. Aruba Petroleum, Inc. and Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3391
On April 22, 2014, a Texas state jury awarded the Parr family $2,925,000 in an action against Aruba Petroleum, Inc. and Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. for health and property damage sustained from fracking and other gas extraction activity on property surrounding the Parr’s 40 acre farm in Decatur, TX.
The Parrs filed suit in Dallas County, Texas in March of 2011, claiming that after natural gas drilling and production started on the surrounding property, they began to suffer illness, nausea, other health issues, injury to their animals and livestock, loss of use and enjoyment of their property, and diminution in property. The complaint named Aruba and Encana as defendants, as well as, Republic Energy Inc., Ryder Scott Oil Co., Tejas Western Corp., Ash Grove Resources LLC, Halliburton Co. and Tejas Production Services Inc. Halliburton Co. was dismissed on summary judgment in the spring of 2013. The Parrs reached a settlement with other defendants. They filed an eleventh amended petition against Aruba and Encana only on Sept. 17, 2013.
The action proceeded to trial against Aruba before Judge Mark Greenberg. On April 22, 2014, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Parrs. The jury found that Aruba intentionally created a private nuisance but that its activities were not abnormal or out of place with its surroundings. The jury awarded $2,000,000 for past physical pain and suffering, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 for past mental anguish, $0 for future mental anguish, and $275,000 for loss of market value of real property. The jury did not find malice and did not award exemplary damages.
5) Allen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc., et al., 2013 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 8612
In this landmark case, a Louisiana federal jury Louisiana awarded $9 Billion in punitive damages to a former user of the Actos drug who developed bladder cancer.
Terrence Allen was prescribed and used the prescription drug Actos, a diabetes medication manufactured and sold by Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Inc., related companies, and Eli Lilly and Company. After he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, Terrence and his wife Susan filed a product liability action against Takeda, the related companies, and Eli Lilly in July of 2011. Although the action was initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the action to the Western District of Louisiana for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca F. Doherty presided over a jury trial from Feb. 3, 2014 to April 2, 2014. On April 7, 2014, the jury reached a verdict in the Allens' favor. The verdict included a punitive damage award of $6,000,000,000.00 against Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and $3,000,000,000.00 against Eli Lilly and Company. The jury also awarded the Allens $1,475,000 in compensatory damages.
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