1 MICHIGAN LAWYERS WEEKLY 2010 Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements LARGEST VERDICTS Improper corporate sale, sexual harassment, head-on snow crash among top verdicts. page B2 LARGEST SETTLEMENTS Construction project s non-completion, sales commission disputes on this year s list. page B7 CLASS ACTIONS Accounting earnings fraud, noxious odor from sludge in landfill reported. page B19 NATIONAL VERDICTS Drug manufacturer slapped with $500 million in punitive damages. page B20 ABOUT THIS SECTION This section includes verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more obtained in 2010 that were reported to Michigan Lawyers Weekly and verified before Dec. 23, We would like to thank the attorneys who submitted their reports to Lawyers Weekly throughout While many of these reports were published in the Verdicts & Settlements section of the newspaper, others appear in this section for the first time. Lawyers Weekly acknowledges that there have been other verdicts and settlements of $1 million-plus reached in This section, however, includes only those verdicts and settlements properly reported to us and verified by deadline. If your verdict or settlement that was properly reported with all required information was mistakenly omitted from this list, please contact Douglas J. Levy at (248) or Settlements skyrocket past 50%; verdicts drop 87% By Douglas J. Levy Compared to 2009 s figures, the number and values of submitted verdicts, settlements and class-action lawsuits in the 2010 edition of Michigan Lawyers Weekly s Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements had notable peaks and valleys. There were 65 total reports submitted, which reflects a 13 percent increase over the 57 published in But, unlike 2009, which had the highest reported verdict at $300 million, there weren t any eight- and nine-figure verdicts among the 18 submitted for Rather, the verdict awards in 2010 totaled nearly $56 million an 87 percent drop from the 2009 figure of $415 million among 20 reports with the top verdict at $7.98 million. It should be noted, however, that 2009 s top verdict was $300 million; had that verdict not been included in the overall verdicts award totals, the 2009 and 2010 totals would have been nearly similar. Settlements, however, were a different story. There were 45 total reports for settlements in 2010, reflecting a 33 percent difference to the 30 published in And the monetary total topped $125 million, which was more than double the $61.2 million figure posted for As for class-action suits, there were only two reports for 2010, compared to the seven published in The $15.59 million total value was a drop of 90 percent compared to 2009 s $155.4 million, and the top class-action suit of $12.3 million was the only case among the 65 overall reports that reached eight figures. The top three jury verdicts all took place in west Michigan two in Kent County Circuit Court and one in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The No. 1 verdict was Ward, et al. v. Idsinga, et al., which involved claims of wrongful and intentional interference with a company s interest, and aiding and abetting in the improper sale of the interest at a fire-sale price. In the Kent County trial, shareholders of a reorganized LLC, a broker of repossession services, were sent letters purporting to ask them to consider and vote on a proposed transaction with another company. However, it was contended, the board of directors and shareholder consents had already been executed, rendering any vote meaningless. As well, it was asserted, one executive had been threatened by another to push through the offer, claiming that there would be no value out of ownership in the LLC when the LLC was actually worth more than defendants claimed it was. It resulted in a $7.98 million verdict, and an appeal is expected. The federal jury in the second-highest verdict, Waldo v. Consumers Energy Co., awarded $7.9 million to a female transmission line apprentice who said she was sexually harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment over a four-year period. And in the third-highest verdict, Dykes v. Singh, $6.3 million in present and future economic and non-economic damages was awarded to a driver injured a snowy, head-on auto accident. Injuries weren t contended, but the issue of liability was, and a black-ice theory was provided but ultimately rejected by a Kent County jury for the accident s occurrence. The top three settlements were a dispute over a combined-sewer overflow project ($9.15 million) and two auto parts sales commission suits ($8.5 million and $8.3 million), while a $12.3 million settlement over lost securities values accounted for 2010 s top class-action suit. If you would like to comment on this story, please contact Douglas J. Levy at (248) or
2 B2 Michigan Lawyers Weekly January 10, 2011 Cite 25 Mich.L.W. 226 LARGEST VERDICTS # 1 Shareholders claim improper corporate sale at fire-sale price Side deals, threats to gain control of LLC at improper value asserted $7,978,530 In a lawsuit filed in Kent County Circuit Court, plaintiffs Michael C. Ward Sr. and Robert Tinucci sought damages from defendants Scott Idsinga, Kevin Flynn, Renovo Services, LLC, and Emerald Ventures, Inc., for claims of wrongful and intentional interference with Renaissance Recovery Solutions, Inc. s interest, and aiding and abetting in the improper sale of the interest at a fire-sale price. In 2005, Recovery Solutions, Inc. (RRS), a broker of repossession services, was reorganized as Renaissance Recovery Solutions, LLC, with RRS being the holding company that owned an 83.7 percent interested in the LLC. Ward and co-plaintiff Robert Tinucci were minority shareholders in RRS, owning 26 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of its stock. Flynn was appointed to lead the LLC through his company, Emerald Ventures (EVI), and through another company, Renovo Services. Flynn owned 16.3 percent of the LLC through EVI and Renovo, then, through side deals and threats with Idsinga, RRS president, made efforts to purchase RRS 83.7 percent interest. In 2006, RRS board of directors wanted the sale, but the deal was ultimately voted down by the shareholders. In March 2007, Ward attempted to collect the $530,000 that he loaned Idsinga in June In his attempts, it was discovered that Flynn had managed to get RRS board of directors to approve the sale of RRS interest in the LLC for $892,000 which plaintiffs alleged was a means of Flynn getting the LLC rolled into Renovo for future growth in the latter company. Though a notice to RRS shareholders was sent out March 22, 2007, purporting to ask them to consider and vote on the proposed transaction, the board of directors and shareholder consents had already been executed. Plaintiffs asserted that Idsinga had been threatened by Flynn to push through the offer, claiming that RRS would never receive any value out of its ownership in the LLC when the LLC was actually worth more than defendants claimed it was. Defendants contended that plaintiffs had made illadvised investments in RRS, and because of lack of due diligence from the beginning, were not entitled to damages from the LLC s sale. The court granted partial summary disposition in plaintiffs favor, finding that the March 2007 transaction was void under RRS bylaws. Because the transaction was not legally approved, the Court found that the sale was void ab initio as a matter of law, and that Renovo had converted RRS interest. The jury found for the plaintiffs, awarding $7,978,530. Type of action: Commercial litigation, business tort Type of injuries: Sale of corporate interest at fire-sale price Name of case: Ward, et al. v. Idsinga, et al. Court/Case no./date: Kent County Circuit Court; CK; Nov. 18, 2010 Name of judge: Dennis B. Leiber Case evaluation: $4.5 million Highest offer: $2.8 million Verdict amount: $7,978,530 COURTADE Most helpful expert: Justin Cherfoli, CPA/ABV, Southfield Attorneys for plaintiffs: Bruce A. Courtade, Paul A. McCarthy, Stephen J. Hulst Attorneys for defendants: Richard A. Kay, Molly E. McManus Status: Post-judgment motions have begun; appeal expected. MCCARTHY # 2 Line worker says she was subjected to vile, abusive environment Woman asserts company did nothing to end sexual degradation $7.9 million In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, plaintiff Theresa Waldo sought damages from defendant Consumers Energy Co. for claims of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of In 2001, after four years of working in mail services and meter reading for Consumers Energy, Waldo entered a four-year, in-house apprenticeship program in the company s transmission line department. Over the course of the apprenticeship, she cited such abusive incidents as: Being told by her immediate supervisor, Jim McDonald, that she and other women were not wanted, welcomed, or accepted in the department, and that it was his intention to wash her out. Being subject to routine foul and sexually offensive language in her workplace, including ongoing derogatory references to plaintiff as a female. Being intentionally pinned, taped, and trapped for more than 20 minutes in a portable toilet by her male co-workers. On a cold, windy December day, being told to climb transmission towers and tighten bolts without the proper training and safety equipment. Degradation including being told to clean tobacco spit and chew that male crew members had spat on the floor, and being forced to urinate like the men working in the field. Her supervisor reminded her that she needed to do whatever the male crew members told her, or else she would be the first to go. Being ignored by crew members, who refused to work, help, or assist her on some of the jobs, or alert her about safety issues and hazards on the job. Plaintiff asserted that, upon complaining to supervisors, management, and human resources personnel about the egregious conduct, defendant routinely disregarded her complaints. It also was contended that her male co-workers were never interviewed, investigated, reprimanded, or otherwise disciplined following her complaints, and that the company took no immediate action. Defendant contended that plaintiff failed to establish the elements of her claim, namely that she was subjected to unwelcomed sexual harassment and that the harassment unreasonably interfered with her work performance. It also was asserted that defendant exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior, and that plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $400,000 in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages. Type of action: Sexual harassment, hostile work environment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Type of injuries: Psychological and emotional distress, humiliation Name of case: Waldo v. Consumers Energy Co. Court/Case no./date: U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan; 1:06-CV-00768; Oct. 4, 2010 Name of judge: Janet T. Neff Verdict amount: $7.9 million Special damages: $400,000 compensatory damages, $7.5 million DREW punitive damages Most helpful expert: Dr. Donald Van Ostenberg, psychologist, Grand Rapids Attorneys for plaintiff: Stephen R. Drew, Adam C. Sturdivant Attorneys for defendant: P. Leni Staley, Michael T. Edwards STURDIVANT Status: On appeal. 5th 4th $3.1M $3.8M $3.7M $6.1M $4.08M $3.4M $6.5M $4.5M $7.9M $4.54M Value of the top 5 verdicts in Michigan $7M $6.2M 3rd $5.65M $15M $6.29M 2006 $14.1M 2007 $7.6M nd $9.1M $47.68M 2009 $7.9M 2010 $15.8M $35M 1st $24M $300M $7.97M $0M $25M $50M $75M $100M $125M $150M $175M $200M $225M $250M $275M $300M
3 Cite 25 Mich.L.W. 227 Woman suffers extensive injuries in snowy crash # 3 Witness says driver tried to pass front car; black ice asserted by defense $6,291,666 In a lawsuit filed in Kent County Circuit Court, plaintiff Angela E. Dykes sought compensatory damages from defendant Tarlochan Singh for injuries sustained in an auto accident. Dykes and Singh were driving in opposite directions on M-57 between Grand Rapids and Greenville in snowy conditions. Singh lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centerline of the highway, and hit Dykes head-on. Dykes underwent multiple orthopedic surgeries, followed by intensive care for the first couple of weeks, then hospitalization for 2½ months. Hardware was put into both femurs; both feet and ankles were fractured; there were thoracic and cervical spine injuries and hip, hand and arm damage; and the right knee cap was disfigured. Long scars from multiple surgeries were sustained. A witness who was following Dykes contended that Singh was trying to pass the vehicle in front of him, at one point pulling onto the shoulder to get a view of the traffic that slowed ahead because of the weather conditions. Plaintiff had a successful counseling practice, was an adjunct professor at Spring Arbor University, and was working on a degree in nursing. Defendant did not assert against plaintiff s injuries. However, the issue of liability was contended, and a blackice theory was provided for the accident s occurrence. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $6,291,666 in past, present and future economic and non-economic damages. Type of action: Auto personal injury Type of injuries: Fractures in femurs, ankles, foot, arm, hands, hip, spine and rib, scarring Name of case: Dykes v. Singh Court/Case no./date: Kent County Circuit Court; NI; May 27, 2010 Name of judge: Donald A. Johnston Demand: $1.5 million Highest offer: $135,000 Verdict amount: $6,291,666 Special damages: $125,000 (future lost income) Most helpful experts: Dr. James R. Ringler, orthopedic surgeon, Grand Rapids; Dr. Martin Waalkes, neurosurgeon, Grand Rapids Insurance carrier: AAA Michigan Attorney for plaintiff: M. Dennis Esmay Attorney for defendant: Kenneth B. Breese Status: On appeal. # 4 Blue Cross breaches carve-out plan contract Business dropped from network after Ford warned to not take deal $4,549,345 In a lawsuit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, plaintiff TheraMatrix Services, Inc. asserted Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan committed breach of contract and tortious interference with economic and business relationships. TheraMatrix, a Pontiac-based outpatient physical therapy company, had been part of Blue Cross network of participating providers. In 2003, TheraMatrix worked with Ford Motor Co. on an outpatient physicaltherapy network carve-out plan, as a means of saving Ford money on its health insurance costs compared to what it had been paying with Blue Cross. Blue Cross agreed to be a third-party administrator January 10, 2011 for the program, but backed out of the agreement in February 2005 (a substitute third-party administrator was found thereafter). TheraMatrix alleged that in late 2004 and early 2005, Blue Cross officials told Ford that if it went ahead with the carve-out program, the automaker could lose its hospital discounts. In April 2006, 15 days after DaimlerChrysler announced it was going to pursue a similar carve-out plan with TheraMatrix, Blue Cross terminated TheraMatrix as a participating provider for its health plans in Michigan. Blue Cross then sent letters to insurance agents, doctors and companies alerting them of this, but did not indicate reasons why. Eighteen months later, Blue Cross restored TheraMatrix to the participating provider list, but at the bottom of the list. TheraMatrix asserted Blue Cross breached its agreement to be third-party administrator to the Ford program. It was further asserted that Blue Cross actions caused the Ford program to be scaled back to a statewide plan instead of nationwide, and that by doing so, there was tortious interference. As well, it was argued that the DaimlerChrysler deal did not happen because of defendant s tortious interference. Blue Cross contended that it did not have a third-party administrator contract with TheraMatrix for the Ford matter, and, further, if there was a breach of it, it was not the cause for TheraMatrix s damages associated with Ford s scaling back of its relationship with plaintiff. It was further contended that there was not a business relationship that existed between TheraMatrix and DaimlerChrysler, and that Blue Cross was not the precipitating cause that would have interfered with such a relationship. The jury found for the TheraMatrix, and awarded $4,100,293 on the breach of contract claim and $449,052 on the tortious interference claim. Type of action: Breach of contract, tortious interference with economic and business relationships Type of injuries: Lost profits and business, damaged business reputation Name of case: TheraMatrix Services, Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan YOUNG Court/Case no./date: Oakland County Circuit Court; CZ; July 22, 2010 Name of judge: Edward Avadenka Verdict amount: $4,549,345 Most helpful expert: Barry Lefkowitz, financial consultant, Southfield MACWILLIAMS Attorneys for plaintiff: Rodger D. Young, Sara K. MacWilliams, Joel H. Serlin Attorney for defendant: Laurine S. Parmely Key to winning: Use of adverse witnesses in crossexamination Status: Judgment and award of $960,260 in mediation sanctions are on appeal. # 5 Reseller says DHL forced business to close Decision to end domestic air, ground services cited as breach of contract $4,084,886 In a lawsuit filed in Lenawee County Circuit Court, plaintiffs The Service Source, Inc. and The Service Source Franchise, LLC sought economic damages from defendant DHL Express (USA), Inc. for breach of contract. Adrian-based Service Source had been in business 15 years as a reseller for shipping services, focusing exclusively on small businesses that needed domestic-only shipping. Service Source had a contract to use Airborne Express Delivery Services exclusively, and when DHL bought Airborne in 2003, DHL continued the rolling five-year contract that Service Source had established with Airborne. On Nov. 10, 2008, DHL announced it would cease all domestic shipping service Jan. 30, Service Source, which was in the process of expanding into a franchise, attempted to find a substitute shipping service to offer its customers, but to no avail, and eventually ceased business functions. Plaintiffs asserted that defendant had an obligation to fulfill the five-year contract, and contended that there was financial loss that could not be avoided because of it. Defendant contended that it was at its sole discretion as to where in the United States DHL s services would be provided. It was further asserted that plaintiff failed to make timely payments to defendant, and that there was an outstanding debt of $673,211 owed for services rendered. After granting summary disposition, the judge found for the plaintiffs and awarded $4,084,886 in damages and pre-judgment interest. Type of action: Breach of contract Type of injuries: Lost profits Name of case: The Service Source, Inc., et al. v. DHL Express (USA), Inc. Court/Case no./date: Lenawee County Circuit Court; CK; July 12, 2010 Tried before: Judge MORGAN Name of judge: Margaret M.S. Noe Demand: $3.5 million Highest offer: $250,000 Verdict amount: $4,084,886 Most helpful expert: Bruce Knapp, accountant, Troy Attorneys for plaintiff: Courtney E. Morgan Jr., Keefe A. Brooks BROOKS Attorney for defendant: Withheld Key to winning: Clear presentation of damage proofs Status: On appeal. Family says ordinance singled them out Council decision to rezone only their land was discriminatory $3.6 million In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan-Northern Division, plaintiffs Ronald E. Loesel, Arthur Loesel and Valerian Nowak asserted that defendant city of Frankenmuth violated their 14th Amendment equal protection rights by improperly rezoning land they owned. In May 2005, the Loesels were in agreement to sell 37 1 /2 acres of property to Wal-Mart for $4 million. However, in December 2005, the city passed an ordinance restricting the size of buildings inside the zoning area that their land sits on to 65,000 square feet. As a result, Wal- Mart broke off the agreement. Plaintiffs asserted that City Manager Charles Graham, working with a Michigan Lawyers Weekly B3 grassroots group opposed to the retailer, worked to come up with justified ordinance options to prevent Wal-Mart from building a store in the city. It was further contended that the city chose a less restrictive method, where the ordinance, which would not allow for anything more than 65,000 square feet to be developed, would only be applied to the city s Commercial Local Planned Unit Development zone (CL-PUD). That zone, the majority of which is made up of the Loesels property, was the only plot large enough to house a store of Wal-Mart s 100,000- to 145,000-square-foot size. Additionally, it was asserted, the city was more concerned with the interests of several other local businesses including the 320,000-square-foot Bronner s Christmas store and never took the Loesels interests into consideration. Defendant contended that the city s future-land-use master plan for the CL-PUD had never called for largeformat retailers to be built there, as larger parcels would be needed to accommodate parking, stormwater retention and traffic circulation, among other factors. It was further asserted that Wal-Mart never asked for injunctive relief or for the ordinance to be struck down upon its passing; as such, it was contended, the retailer didn t take the matter seriously enough to fight for it. The jury found for the plaintiffs and awarded $3.6 million. Type of action: Violation of 14th Amendment equal protection rights Type of injuries: Discrimination, loss of land sale # 6 KOCHANOWSKI YOUNG Largest Verdicts continued on page 4
4 B4 Michigan Lawyers Weekly January 10, 2011 Cite 25 Mich.L.W. 228 LARGEST VERDICTS Continued from page 3 Name of case: Loesel, et al., v. City of Frankenmuth Court/Case no./date: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Northern Division; BC; March 4, 2010 Name of judge: Thomas L. Ludington Demand: $3.9 million Verdict amount: $3.6 million Attorneys for plaintiff: Andrew J. Kochanowski, Jesse Young Attorney for defendant: David K. Otis Status: On appeal. Couple awarded pain, suffering in crash Driver says he suffered fractured vertebrae,tbi and depression $3.5 million In a lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, plaintiffs James W. Fairley and Kim Fairley sought compensatory damages from defendant Schiber Truck Co. and defendant Ray D. Kissick for injuries sustained in an auto-truck accident. On April 4, 2008, James Fairley was stopped on Spring Arbor Road at Emerson in Jackson County, waiting to make a left turn. His turn signal was activated. At the same time, a semi-truck, owned by Schiber Truck and driven by Kissick, was driving west on Spring Arbor. As Kissick approached the intersection of Emerson, he failed to stop and struck Fairley s vehicle in the rear, causing it to spin around and cross the centerline, where Fairley was struck by another vehicle. Fairley suffered a traumatic brain injury, depression and two fractured vertebrae. He walks with a cane and cannot dance, bowl or read as he once did. Defendant s insurance company, Zurich, took the position that a Jackson County jury would not award significant pain and suffering damages, essentially forcing, according to plaintiff s counsel, the case to trial. Plaintiffs waived an $800,000 excess economic loss claim, as plaintiff was on Social Security disability, and the amount after the set-off would have come to approximately $160,000. The jury returned a $3.5 million jury verdict solely for pain and suffering, and there will be no collateral source reductions from the verdict amount. Type of action: Third-party auto negligence in truck accident Type of injuries: Traumatic brain injury, depression, two fractured vertebrae Name of case: Fairley, et al. v. Schiber Truck Co., et al. Court/Case no./date: Jackson County Circuit Court; NI; Dec. 15, 2010 Name of judge: Thomas Wilson Demand: $2.4 million Highest offer: $1 million Verdict amount: $3.5 million Insurance carrier: Zurich Attorneys for plaintiff: Steven M. Gursten, Thomas W. James Attorneys for defendant: John Gillooly, GURSTEN Robert A. Obringer Status: The parties agreed to waive appeal in exchange for a high-low, no-appeal agreement placed on the record on the last day of trial. FAST RESEARCH. FAST DELIVERY. The full text of any opinion summarized in Lawyers Weekly can be sent directly to you. Place your order with the LW number at the end of the summary. Call # 7 Asset values on bankruptcy questioned Adversary proceeding filed when discrepancies are discovered $2.905 million In a lawsuit filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, plaintiff The State Bank asserted adversary proceeding for fraud under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(B) against defendant John M. Mansour. The State Bank lent money to various business enterprises owned or controlled by Mansour, a real estate developer, for many years. Two of these loans, a line of credit extended by The State Bank to J.M. Developments, Inc. in the amount of $500,000, and a construction loan extended by The State Bank to Landings at Crane s Cove, L.L.C. in the amount of $2,405,000, were the subject matter of the litigation. Mansour guaranteed both obligations because of his ownership interest in each borrower. The State Bank required defendant to submit annually a personal financial statement listing assets and liabilities, and Mansour signed these personal financial statements as truthful and accurate. When Mansour filed for bankruptcy, The State Bank reviewed his bankruptcy schedules, compared with defendant s latest personal financial statement. It was noticed that the values of assets were a total of more than $3 million lower on the bankruptcy schedules as contrasted with the latest personal financial statement, as of the same date. This caused the bank to investigate further, and further discrepancies, such as defendant s unpaid personal gambling liability, were discovered. The State Bank filed an adversary proceeding in Mansour s bankruptcy, seeking a judgment that defendant s liabilities to the bank were non-dischargeable because of Mansour s fraud pursuant to 11 U.S.C 523(a)(2)(B). After a five-day trial, the court found in plaintiff s favor and awarded $2,905,000. Type of action: Adversary proceeding in bankruptcy Name of case: The State Bank v. Mansour Court/Case no./date: U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division; dof; Sept. 30, 2010 Tried before: Judge Name of judge: Daniel S. Opperman Verdict amount: $2,905 million Attorneys for plaintiff: Stephen P. Dunn, Stephanie N. Olsen Attorney for defendant: Maynard F. Newman Status: On appeal. # 8 # 9 Woman runs stop sign; kills her, other driver Doctor who read EKG says woman blacked out at construction site $2 million In an auto negligence lawsuit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court, plaintiff Linda Hija, personal representative of the Estate of Frank Joseph Hija, sought damages from defendants Edw. C. Levy Co., d/b/a Ace Asphalt and Paving Co.; Give-Em a Brake Safety, Inc.; and the Estate of Marie C. Colden, following a fatal auto accident. On Oct. 17, 2007, Colden, 83, drove through a road construction area while it was dark outside. Road workers were starting to set up for the day. Colden ran the stop sign, hitting the 54-yar-old Hija s car and killing both drivers. The intersection had always been dead-ended to form a T, but prior to the construction job; a free-flow ramp existed to allow motorists to travel to their right and not have to stop at a stop sign. The ramp was removed before the accident occurred; meaning motorists now had to stop at the intersection to turn right. A permanent Right Lane Must Turn Right Sign had been installed by Give-Em a Brake 31 feet in front of a temporary stop sign, which was on skids and held down by sandbags. Give-Em a Brake s workers had installed the permanent posts for the permanent stop sign, but left for the day without mounting the sign. Defense for Colden contended that the stop sign was blocked due to the negligence of the contractors, causing the accident, and, along with estate for Hija, sued Ace Asphalt and Give-Em a Brake. Defendants put forth a blackout defense, and relied on the doctor who read the EKG and opined that defendant s decedent had a syncopal episode. The jury issued a $2 million verdict for the plaintiff, assigning 60 percent negligence to Colden and 40 percent to the other defendants. Type of action: Auto negligence Type of injuries: Death Name of case: Hija, et al. v. Edw. C. Levy Co., et al. Court/Case no./date: St. Clair County Circuit Court; NI; June 4, 2010 Name of judge: Peter E. Deegan Verdict amount: $2 million Most helpful experts: James Valenta, Ann Arbor; Suzen Oliver, Brighton Attorney for plaintiff: Jason A. Waechter Attorneys for defendant: Michael P. Hindelang, James F. Hunt Status: Claims against Give-Em a Brake and Ace Asphalt settled four days before trial for $1 million. Colden had policy limits of $500,000, which were tendered to after jury verdict. The total payout for the claim was $1,557,500, which included $57,500 from two other construction companies that settled early in the case. # 10 Company owner claims fraud in agreement Joint venture skewed profits and control of demolition project $1.94 million In a lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, plaintiff NTW Sales LLC contended that defendant North American Dismantling Corp. had committed fraud in connection with the execution of a joint venture agreement, which changed the parties agreement from a 50/50 split to one giving North American 65 percent of the profits and control of the project. The two parties were to perform a combination metal recycling and demolition project at a large vacant paper mill in Berlin, N.H. The owner of NTW Sales claimed that counsel for the joint venture, under the direction of the defendant, deceived the plaintiff regarding the contents of one of the documents he signed at the closing of the agreement. At the conclusion of the four-week trial, the jury found that North American had indeed committed fraud in connection with the execution of the written joint venture agreement, voided the document and enforced the parties original verbal 50/50 agreement. NTW also was awarded half of the remaining $4 million of proceeds from the project, which had been placed in a court ordered escrow account. The jury also found that NTW had the right to 50 percent of the future revenue from the project, which could be as much as $12 million. As well, the jury found against all of North American s counterclaim, wherein it sought the full $4 million escrow and recovery of an additional $1.6 million that it claimed was profit wrongfully retained from the project. Type of action: Fraud Type of injuries: Loss of income Name of case: NTW Sales LLC v. North American Dismantling Group, et al. Court/case no./date: Wayne County Circuit Court; CK; June 4, 2010 Name of judge: Jeanne Stempien Verdict: $1,947,735 to NTW Sales; zero on North American s counterclaim Attorney for plaintiff: R. Christopher Cataldo Attorney for defendant: George M. Head Status: Case settled.