Nation - Personal injury litigation highlights

By Tony Ogden

The Daily Record Newswire

BOSTON, MA -- In addition to a wide array of drug litigation, 2010 brought verdicts and settlements involving a number of other products, including Toyota vehicles, asbestos and tobacco.

Here is a look at some of the highlights from the year just past:

Auto suits

Automobile manufacturers dealt with a number of suits over the course of 2010. Toyota paid a record $16.4 million fine for failing to properly notify federal authorities about sudden unintended acceleration problems that spawned a number of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits from consumers.

Several large verdicts went against Ford in 2010 including a $131 million verdict, a $7 million verdict and a $23.4 million verdict for rollover accidents, as well as a $19 million verdict over defective seatbelt design. Owners of Windstar minivans are also suing Ford in a class action, claiming the rear axles of their vehicles have a design defect that can cause them to fail while driving.

Nursing home litigation

In nursing home litigation, the biggest verdict of 2010 was $640 million, levied against Skilled Healthcare Group, a nursing home firm, after the jury decided that the firm had violated state staffing standards.

Other big verdicts include a $114 million verdict in an abuse case that resulted in an elderly woman's death, a $42 million verdict for the dehydration death of 92-year-old patient, and a $43.5 million verdict against the owner of a nursing home facility where a man died after receiving poor care and inadequate medical attention for injuries suffered in a fall.

First Taser suit

For the first time last year, Taser settled a product liability suit brought by a criminal suspect alleging injury or death caused by the device.

'Popcorn lung' disease

Juries found for the plaintiff in several "popcorn lung" cases last year. The cases -- one an $8 million verdict and the other a $30.4 million verdict -- involved workers in microwave popcorn factories who were exposed to the butter flavoring chemical diacetyl, causing irreversible lung damage.


Out of the many asbestos cases this year, the largest verdict -- $209 million -- was in a "second-hand" asbestos case in which the victim's exposure to the cancer-causing fiber dust came from her husband who worked as a pipe cutter.


Once again, the ongoing Engle litigation continued to see a large number of verdicts with everything from $4.3 million to $80 million and more. The Engle progeny cases, which involve individual trials to determine if a plaintiff was addicted to cigarettes and whether that addiction caused his or her injury.

Published: Wed, Jan 12, 2011