I am sorry to report that I did not have a jury verdict in the top 10 largest verdicts of 2005. (And, it is doubtful that I ever will.) The report on civil trial verdicts during 2005 makes interesting reading.
With a few exceptions, 2005 was not a year for super-sized verdicts, at least not relatively speaking.
Taken as a whole, the top 10 verdicts in 2004 were nearly twice the size of last year’s batch of the largest verdicts to individual plaintiffs. In fact, every one of 2005’s top 10 verdicts is smaller than the verdict in the corresponding position last year.
For the second year in a row, one of the most far-reaching verdicts involved the failure of a large pharmaceutical company to disclose the potentially fatal health risks of a popular medication. This year it was the pain killer Vioxx (No. 3), rather than the diet drug fen-phen, which was the No. 2 verdict in 2004.
It was also notable that two of 2005’s top verdicts involved high-low agreements that limited the amount of money collected by the plaintiff to less than 1 percent of the jury award. In the No. 2 verdict, a Texas jury awarded $606 million to the family of an 82-year-old man, but the high-low agreement limited the collection to $5 million. In the No. 4 verdict, a Florida jury awarded $164 million to a 16-year-old boy; the high-low agreement limited collection to $1 million.
Six of the other top verdicts this year involved death or severe brain damage caused by extreme corporate and medical negligence. The defendants, in each case, had vast resources and it was reasonable for the jury to conclude that they would be capable of paying a significant chunk of the award.
Top Ten Jury Verdicts of 2005
In 2005’s largest verdict to an individual plaintiff, a Florida jury in May ordered Morgan Stanley to pay $1.45 billion to investor Ronald Perelman for defrauding him into the sale of his Coleman camping gear company.
In what may be one of the last massive medical malpractice verdicts in Texas, a state jury awarded $606 million – including a remarkable $600 million in punitive damages – to the family of an 82-year-old cancer patient who died after receiving an overdose of chemotherapy drugs.
Plaintiffs scored a major victory in the ongoing Vioxx litigation last August when a Texas jury awarded $253.1 million in the first trial.
Moments before a Florida jury returned with its $164 million verdict last July in a drunk-driving case, plaintiffs’ attorney Arthur Tifford agreed to a high-low agreement that capped the defendant’s liability at $5 million.
In the largest liquor liability verdict in the nation, a New Jersey jury last January found the beer concession at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford liable for a drunken football fan who caused a car crash that paralyzed a 2-year-old girl. The jury awarded $135 million.
In a David and Goliath type tale, an Illinois jury awarded an events promoter $90 million – most of it in punitive damages – against one of the nation’s largest entertainment promoters, Clear Channel Communications of Chicago.
In February, a prominent Houston-based law firm and a Texas bank were slammed with a $65.5 million verdict in a complex estate planning case that involved major conflicts of interest.
Three years after a jury acquitted a Florida company of criminal manslaughter charges, a civil jury hit the outdoor advertiser with a $65 million verdict for the electrocution of a sixth-grade boy.
In early December, a Los Angeles jury found that PrivatAir – an aviation company specializing in private airline services – wrongfully terminated Captain Doyle D. Baker on the basis of his age, defaming him in the process and causing extreme emotional distress.
In the ninth loss for Ford in Explorer rollover cases, a Florida jury awarded $61.2 million to the parents of an 18-year-old boy who was killed in a 1997 accident.
Read more about each case at www.lawyersweeklyusa.com/topten2005.cfm.
Taken from Long Island Business News