Army veteran disabled in crash awarded $18M after rejecting $12,500 settlement

An Alabama circuit court jury awarded a U.S. Army veteran $18 million in damages from a 2015 accident that left him with mental and physical disabilities.

A statement from Alexander Shunnarah Personal Injury Attorneys said the verdict for Zachary Lucas came after he suffered a catastrophic brain injury when struck on I-22 by a van driven by Michael Cannon. Cannon was insured by Progressive Insurance Company, which initially proposed a $12,500 settlement, the statement said.

The case stems from a Nov. 16, 2015 incident where Lucas’ motorcycle ran of gas and he pulled it on to the shoulder of the highway, where he was struck by Cannon’s vehicle. Although Lucas had on a helmet at the time of the crash, he suffered serious and life-threatening injuries, including a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage that left him with serious and permanent physical and mental deficits.

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Family of man found dead in Tulsa jail cell in $10M settlement

In a horrifying video, guards at the Tulsa County Jail are seen dragging Elliott Williams into a jail cell with a broken neck.

Over the next 50 hours, guards are seen placing food and water just outside of Williams’ reach. Dan Smolen with Smolen and Roytman tells us the officers were trying to prove the 37-year-old was faking his paralysis.

“Nobody should die the way this man had to die, and I don’t think that was something that was really in debate, and the jury didn’t think so either,” he said.

Smolen is referring to the 2017 jury trial against the Tulsa County Sheriff for Williams’ death. Jurors awarded the family a little more than $10 million from Tulsa County and another $250,000 from former Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

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7th Circuit upholds $29M medical negligence verdict

A federal appeals court upheld a nearly $30 million verdict for an Illinois man who was forced to undergo a kidney transplant after being cared for by an East St. Louis health clinic.

The case details a series of failures in care for Kevin Clanton, now 39, but the decision means a judge will have to decide how much responsibility Clanton had for his condition, the appeals court said Thursday.

Clanton first saw nurse practitioner Denise Jordan at an East St. Louis clinic run by the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation in 2008, after his high blood pressure caused him to fail a pre-employment physical exam. Jordan diagnosed him with obesity and hypertension. At the next visit, a week later, she determined that the hypertension was severe, gave him some sample medication and told him to come back in a week, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel wrote in 2017.

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Lawyer: Plaintiffs deserve $13.2M each in body donation case

An Arizona jury began deliberating whether to award up to $13.2 million each to plaintiffs who say the bodies of their deceased loved ones were mishandled and disrespected by a now-closed Phoenix company.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Burg said the civil case against Biological Resource Center owner Stephen Gore is the first of its kind and will send a message to the body donation industry about what happens if they mislead and deceive donors. He estimated the nationwide industry is worth $1 billion.

Arizona is a regulatory-free zone for the body-parts industry. At least four body donation companies are operating in Arizona, in addition to a nonprofit cryonics company that freezes people after they die with the intent of one day bringing them back to life.

The 21 plaintiffs in the civil action, which was filed in 2015, say the remains of their family members were obtained through “false statements,” that body parts were being sold for profit, and that they were not stored, treated or disposed of with dignity or respect. 

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$7M wrongful death claim for shooting by deputy

Stanislaus County has agreed to pay $7 million to the husband and young son of the woman who was fatally shot in her vehicle by one of its sheriff’s deputies in Ripon.

The attorneys for plaintiffs Hanibal Yadegar and his son, and defendants Stanislaus County and Deputy Justin Wall, came to the agreement during mediation in June and a judge approved an application for the agreement last month.

The wrongful death lawsuit stems from the Feb. 26, 2017, shooting of Evin Olsen Yadegar, whom Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies attempted to contact after a security guard at a Salida hotel reported she’d been physically confrontational with him.

Yadegar he is pleased with the settlement but that it is just one part of a “two-pronged approach for justice.” The criminal case against Wall, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter, is ongoing. A trial is scheduled for January.

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W.Va. Wrongful termination suit yields $8M verdict

A West Virginia jury awarded a woman $8 million in punitive damages this week in a lawsuit alleging she was fired for refusing to falsify documents pertaining to the citizenship of employees in an out-of-state office.

Washington County resident Lori Shultz filed the suit against Surge Staffing LLC, which operates in a number of states, in November 2017. That’s two months after she was terminated as manager of the company’s Parkersburg branch, located in Vienna.

In the suit, Shultz and her attorneys claim she was fired after refusing a company executive’s request “to falsely verify” on federal forms, known as I9s, that multiple employees in Surge’s Chicago office “were not unauthorized aliens.”

In its response, Surge denies those allegations, as well as Shultz’s assertion that she “performed her job duties in an exemplary manner.”

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Appeals court tosses slip-and-fall award because of admission of Google Maps image

A Florida appeals court has reversed a $90,000 jury award to a woman who slipped and fell on a sidewalk because a Google Maps photo used to bolster her case was not properly authenticated.

The Third District Court of Appeal ruled against plaintiff Juanita Kho, who tripped and fell while walking on a Miami sidewalk in 2010.

Kho had introduced a Google Maps photo of the sidewalk with a November 2007 date stamp to help prove that the city of Miami should have known about the faulty sidewalk. Kho’s expert had testified that there was no substantial difference between the Google Maps photo and a photo of the same location on the date that Kho fell.

Kho had to prove that the city had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the faulty sidewalk, and she used the photo to show constructive knowledge, the appeals court said in its Oct. 16 opinion.

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Southwest Airlines Pilots Get $18.8M Settlement

The Northern District of California approved a settlement that will pay roughly 2,000 Southwest Airlines pilots close to $19 million for benefits that Southwest allegedly failed to credit during short periods of military leave. The lawsuit that prompted the settlement is grounded in the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), rather than the provisions of California labor law.

This is one of those specialized situations in which federal law provides greater employee protections than California state law. Given the growth in the reservist and veteran workforce, however, USERRA may play an increasing role in wage and benefit lawsuits.

The class action lawsuit, filed in July 2017, claims that when Southwest pilots took short-term military leaves, as for reserve duty, their paid sick leave did not continue to accrue. This was true even though these benefits did accrue for pilots who took comparable leaves for bereavement, union duty or jury service.

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Walmart reaches $14M settlement over policy for pregnant workers

Walmart has reached a class action settlement over its one-time national policy that barred pregnant workers from being assigned lighter work in its stores.

The proposed settlement, if approved by a federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois, will end a more than six-year legal battle that began with a complaint by a worker at a Walmart store in O’Fallon.

Under the settlement, which is described in filings by the plaintiff attorneys as unopposed by the retail giant, the company will pay a total of $14 million into a common fund. The settlement estimates each class member will receive between $819 and $2,049 based on 11,000 individuals who faced a similar situation dating back to early March 2014, and depending on how many apply.

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$260M Settlement Averts First Federal Opioid Trial

Two Ohio counties and four drug companies agreed to a $260 million settlement, averting the first federal opioid trial an hour before opening arguments were scheduled to begin Monday.

  • The deal is between distributors McKesson, AmeriSourceBergen and Cardinal Health, along with Teva Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli manufacturer, and Ohio’s Summit and Cuyahoga counties.
  • The counties will receive $235 million in cash from the four companies and $25 million in anti-addiction medication from Teva.
  • Walgreens was not included, and the New York Times reported it will be going forward with its case.
  • The deal comes as talks for a $50 billion settlement collapsed over the weekend.
  • The drug companies are still contending with over 2,400 claims from across the country, which they hope to end with a wide-ranging settlement.

Almost 400,000 Americans have died in the opioid epidemic over the past two decades. Millions remain addicted, costing local governments millions of dollars and creating enormous strains on law enforcement, health providers and social services. Cities began filing lawsuits against the drug companies in 2014. By 2019, the number of opioid lawsuits ballooned to more than 2,500, with nearly every U.S. state filing separate litigation as well. The total economic toll of the crisis could range from $50 billion to over $1 trillion, according to estimates.

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