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The Latest on Major Defense Verdicts in Arizona

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What’s the latest news on Arizona’s civil defense verdicts?  Here’s a preview of some interesting 2013 defense verdicts:

  • Yanovskaya v. State of Arizona.  This was a road design case.  Yanovskaya’s vehicle crashed on a freeway and she alleged that the median’s slope caused her to travel under the cable barrier and into oncoming traffic.  She asked the jury to award $30 million.  Arizona defended that the 49-degree impact angle of her vehicle caused the crash and that the angle was beyond the performance capabilities for cable barriers.
  • Davison v. Yosowitz.  This was a medical malpractice case.  Davison alleged her gynecologist failed to diagnose and repair bowel perforations during surgery.  She asked the jury to award up to $7 million.  Yosowitz defended that small perforations may not be detectable during surgery.
  • Georgianni et al. v. State of Arizona.  Georgianni, a photo radar technician, was shot and killed while sitting in his van.  His family alleged the state negligently implemented its program by having manned and marked vans, and that he was not trained properly and not given a bulletproof vest.  The family demanded $7 million.  Arizona defended that the shooter was solely responsible, that the incident was unforeseeable, and that its program was reasonable and provided adequate training.
  • Midas Greenhouses, L.L.C. and Invernaderos Santa Fe v. Berger Group Ltd.  In this product liability case, greenhouses ordered and used Berger Group’s peat moss for cucumbers, but the crops failed.  They alleged the peat moss was defective and that Berger failed to identify the acidic properties of the moss or to warn them that the moss was not appropriate for vegetable seeds.  The greenhouses claimed they had economic losses of $7.5 million.  Berger Group defended that the peat moss was naturally acidic and that a warning was not required.

Here’s an update on some of 2012’s significant defense verdicts:

  • Sloan v. Farmers Insurance Company of Arizona.  This was an insurance bad faith case.  Sloan’s home and vehicles were burned in a fire.  She claimed the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in a vehicle.  Sloan was charged with arson and insurance fraud.  After the charges were dropped, Farmers paid her full claim.  Sloan asked for more than $40 million.  Farmers defended that it had a reasonable belief that Sloan was involved in intentional burning of her property, that her claim was handled properly, and that the fire had multiple origins.  This case is on appeal.
  • J.T. v. American Building Maintenance Industries, Inc. and Scottsdale Unified School District.  A student was assaulted by a janitor when she returned to school after hours. She alleged that the school failed to provide adequate security, and that the janitor’s employer hired him in spite of his criminal history.  She asked the jury for $20 million.  The school defended that its security was reasonable, and the employer defended that its hiring complied with the standard of care and federal law and that the janitor had no history of violent crime.
  • Everett v. C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc.  This was a product liability case.  Everett had a “Bard Recovery Filter” surgically implanted in her inferior vena cava for collection of blood clots.  The filter allegedly fractured in 2007 when it punctured the aorta, and in 2011 when it pierced the aorta, spine and duodenum.  She alleged the filter had been inadequately tested, that the filter was defective due to unreasonably high stress on it, that the failures were due to fatigue and that the filter had an excessively high failure rate.  She asked the jury for $5.5 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages.  Bard demonstrated that the filter was not defective and had been reasonably tested, that the filter’s fracture rate was no more than the accepted industry average and that the fractures came from atypical loading conditions.  This was the first bellwether trial for a Bard filter of this type.  After trial, the case was settled.
  • Sliney v. Oswood and Reuss et al.  In this medical malpractice case, Sliney had a preoperative workup that revealed an abnormal heart rhythm.  She underwent a procedure that converted her heart to a normal rhythm, but after surgery her heart reverted and she had a stroke.  Sliney claimed that Oswood and Reuss failed to communicate appropriately, that safer alternatives would have prevented the stroke, that the standard protocol had not been followed, and that Reuss should not have performed the surgery.  Sliney asked for more than $3 million.  Oswood, a cardiologist, defended that no clot or other abnormal findings were seen during the workup and that Sliney had signed the consent.  Reuss, a gynecologist, argued that he relied on Oswood to diagnose and treat the abnormal rhythm. 

For more details, the complete article about 2012’s Arizona civil verdicts as originally published in Arizona Attorney is here.  Kelly MacHenry is a prominent authority on verdict results and trends, and is the featured speaker about verdicts at two events this month.  Follow her verdict reports on Twitter @kellymachenry.