The verdict is in Top 10 jury verdicts of 2010

By Tony Ogden

The Daily Record Newswire

BOSTON, MA -- The size of the Top Ten Jury Verdicts increased again in 2010.

The average increased less than the prior year, however, rising from nearly $145 million to just under $157 million. (The average for 2009 increased nearly $33 million from the prior year.)

The top award was significantly higher in 2010 -- $505 million versus $370 million. But there then was a sharp drop: the #2 award was $208.8 million, and the #3 award was $152 million. In contrast, 2009 saw three awards in the $300 million range.

The year's top verdict went to a Las Vegas principal who developed Hepatitis C several weeks after undergoing a routine colonoscopy. During the procedure, he was given anesthesia from a 50 ml vial that had been reused from another patient.

The #2 award went to a California woman who developed mesothelioma from exposure to her husband's asbestos-laced laundry, and three of the Top Ten were against tobacco companies.

10. Tobacco plaintiff wins $80 million verdict: After eight straight defense verdicts in the individual tobacco litigation in Florida, the daughter of a smoker who died of lung cancer won a resounding $80 million verdict in November, including $72 million in punitive damages.

9. Jury delivers $82.5 million verdict in gas plant blast case: A Texas jury has handed down a verdict of more than $82 million against two natural gas plant companies after a worker in a rebuilt and refurbished plant was killed in an explosion.

8. $89 million in airplane crash case: In April of last year, a Pennsylvania jury handed down an $89 million verdict against the manufacturer of an airplane carburetor after a crash killed four people and severely injured a fifth.

7. Fla. jury awards $90.8 million to smoker's widow: In April, a Florida jury awarded $90.8 million to the wife of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.

6. Law firm slammed with $103 million verdict for working against client: In October, a Mississippi jury hit the world's largest law firm with a $103 million verdict in a suit alleging legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duties, conspiracy and interfering with business relationships.

5. Jury awards $124.5 million in passenger van crash: A Texas jury found a bus company and driver liable for $124.5 million to seven passengers injured or killed while riding in a van in a state where it was not licensed to operate.

4. Small firm lawyers win $132.5M in Ford rollover retrial: The third time was a charm for small-firm lawyers who won $132.5 million against Ford for a rollover accident that killed 22-year-old New York Mets prospect Brian Cole.

3. $152 million for estate of woman given free cigarettes as a child: A Massachusetts jury awarded $152 million to the son of a deceased woman who received free cigarettes as a child from representatives of tobacco company Lorillard.

2. Worker's wife awarded $208.8 million for asbestos-laced laundry: In April of 2010, 68-year-old Rhoda Evans won $208.8 million for the mesothelioma caused by asbestos contamination that her husband brought home from his job. The jury awarded $8.8 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages. The compensatory award was split 70/30 between the pipe maker and the employer, but the pipe maker alone was held responsible for the entire punitive award.

1. Small firm wins $505.1 million verdict: Arguing that oversized vials of a drug were "weapons of mass infection" that led to an outbreak of Hepatitis C at outpatient surgical centers, Las Vegas plaintiffs' attorney Robert Eglet convinced a jury that the manufacturer and its distributor should be punished with $500 million in punitive damages, in addition to $5.1 million in compensatory damages.

Published: Fri, Jan 21, 2011