Articles Posted in Corporate Negligence/Tort

A major tobacco maker of menthol cigarettes, was ordered by a jury to pay a widow $25 million in punitive damages and $16 million in compensatory damages.The state jury awarded the full amount that the widow’s attorney had requested as punishment for her husband’s death. The victim and his widow met in high school and were married for 38 years until he died of lung cancer at age 59.As an experienced trial attorney I have reviewed many cases of wrongful death and have completed same with favorable results. One of the most difficult things in life is to lose your husband who was the love of my life, and then to have to go on and fight one of the largest corporations in America, and fight for justice,” the widow said said after the jury announced the punitive damages verdict.

After a month long trial, the jury decided last week that the victim’s widow was entitled to $20 million in compensatory damages for the loss of her husband. The jury reduced the tobacco corporation’s responsibility for his death by 20 percent, for a final award of $16 million.The tobacco company is disappointed with the jury’s decision, and the company plans to appeal said a company spokesman. An attorney for the tobacco corporation had argued that his client shouldn’t be forced to pay punitive damages because cigarettes are not illegal. The corporation complies with all of the laws and all of the regulations that govern the manufacture, marketing and sale of cigarettes, he told the jury.

The widow hopes this verdict will send a message to all tobacco manufactures that cigarettes are dangerous and can kill.
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A teen who emerged unhurt from a single-vehicle wreck only to suffer electrocution when he touched a downed power line has won a $4.4 million verdict against a Power Co. in a negligence suit. A jury awarded actual damages to the plaintiff. The lawyers said a key factor in winning the verdict was countering a corporate policy under which the power company claimed evidence from the scene wasn’t subject to disclosure. Under the policy, “once they get notice that a non-employee is injured by line contact, that immediately triggers notice of anticipation of litigation, and they dispatch a claims person to the scene immediately so everything they do is under the umbrella of an attorney,” said a lawyer who represented the victim. “That gives them the claim of protection from having to disclose information because it’s in anticipation of litigation,” she said. As a Maryland personal injury lawyer I regularly encounter cases against corporate negligence and their failure to upkeep their equipment.
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A major Gas Co. could have prevented the death of a 20-year-old woman, one of eight people who died in the inferno from the gas pipeline explosion, according to a lawsuit filed by the woman’s parents. The wrongful-death lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for negligence and “ultra-hazardous activity” by the gas company. The lawsuit points to “a long list of incidents and safety lapses,” and criticizes the utility for its “sluggish” response to the incident.

“The gas company had knowledge of this pipeline’s defective condition but put profits ahead of public safety,” the attorney said in a statement. “No one should have lost loved ones or suffered injuries or damage to their homes.” The lawsuit claims that the pipeline was over-pressurized at the time of the explosion and that the company failed to maintain or properly inspect the pipe or install automatic or remote shutoff valves.

On the night of the explosion,the victim was visiting her boyfriend to watch a football game when the 30-inch natural gas pipeline exploded at about 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 9 and flames rushed into the house. Terrified, she “ran for her life towards the back yard but was unable to escape the flames, according to the lawsuit.The boyfriend was severely burned while trying to rescue her. The victim’s body was found the next day. The Gas company spokesman declined to comment directly on the lawsuit; except to say that “…,obviously, our hearts go out to the family and we respect their right to file a lawsuit and we will work with them to address their concerns.” The victim’s family is the latest of more than 50 families to sue the utility after the disaster, which injured at least 50 and destroyed 38 homes.