January 26, 2009

Verdicts & Settlements

Allison Retka

St. Louis-based Brown & James wielded considerable weight in the ranking of top defense verdicts.

The defense firm reeled in the most defense verdicts this year at 10 defense wins, and Brown & James principal Russell F. Watters topped the list of top defense lawyers with three successful trials this year in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Watters tried two of those cases in St. Louis City Circuit Court and said his verdicts prove that city juries are losing their automatic luster for plaintiffs.

“The idea that just because you have a case with a person who’s injured against a corporation you’re automatically going to win as a plaintiff doesn’t exist anymore,” Watters said.

One of those cases pitted a California fireworks manufacturer against the family of 22-year-old man killed in a Florida fireworks explosion in July 2003. In that case, Watters said competent expert witnesses helped the jury to consider possible causes for the explosion.

“As opposed to throwing an expert up with just an opinion without any real basis for the opinion,” Watters said, “this case shows that jurors look hard at those experts and will look hard at what they have to say.”

Defense verdicts in medical malpractice cases had a strong showing this year, dominating the top 10 rankings.

Phillip Willman, a defense attorney with St. Louis based-Moser & Marsalek handled one of those malpractice cases in St. Louis City Circuit Court, defending a Saint Louis University obstetrician.

The plaintiffs in the case, the family of a child who suffered brain injury at birth and now has cerebral palsy, had asked the jury for a total of $17.2 million in economic and non-economic damages. The jury deliberated for just 80 minutes before returning the verdict in favor of Saint Louis University.

Willman said the lesson he took away from Trinidy Noldon v. Saint Louis University is the importance of a causation defense.

“We spent a lot of time exploring an alternative causation to what the plaintiffs were presenting,” he said. “We came up with something that made sense medically and had some strong evidence to support it.”

5. $4.75 million

Wrongful death

■Case: Moran v. Daveyfire Inc. and Davey Bickford SNC

■Court: St. Louis City Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorneys: Russell Watters and Bradley Hansmann, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorneys: John Simon and Amy Collignon Gunn, Simon Passanante, St. Louis

16. $900,000

Personal injury

■Case: Mengwasser v. Anthony Kempker Trucking Inc.

■Court: Cole County Circuit Court

■Defendant’s Attorneys: Russell Watters and Chad M. deRoode, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Lauren Allen and Jessica Agnelly, Randy W. James & Associates, Lee’s Summit

18. $650,000

Medical malpractice

■Case: Lunn v. Anderson, M.D., White, M.D., American Multispeciality Group Inc.

■Court: St. Louis County Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorneys: J. Thaddeus Eckenrode, Eckenrode Maupin, St. Louis, for Anderson; David Ellington, Brown & James, St. Louis, for White

21. $500,000

Breach of contract

■Case: Bunger Auto Electric, et al. v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co., et al.

■Court: U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri

■Defendants’ Attorneys: Robert Cockerham and Christopher Seibold, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Edward Luby, Luby Law Firm, St. Louis

22. $450,000 (tie)

Personal injury

■Case: Lyles v. Metro Film Express Local Inc. and Krenning

■Court: St. Louis City Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorney: Bradley R. Hansmann, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorney: Todd Hageman, Simon Passanante, St. Louis

22. $450,000 (tie)

Personal injury

■Case: Curbow v. Nylon Net Co. Inc.

■Court: U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri

■Defendant’s Attorneys: Robert Cockerham and Brian Parsons, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Craig Oliver and Mark Brinkmann, PalmerOliver Sprin

28. $200,000 (tie)

Personal injury

■Case: Luke Pecoraro, a minor, by and through his parents and next friends, Anthony and Lisa Pecoraro, and Anthony and Lisa Pecoraro, individually v. Crane M.D., Mehard M.D., St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospitals and the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America

■Court: St. Louis City Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorney: Russell F. Watters, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Gerald Dunne, St. Louis

31. $125,000 (tie)

Indenture of real estate trust dispute

■Case: Ryan Hale, Gina Hale, Johnny R. Boyd, Marcia F. Boyd, Denis Boyle, et al., v. Short, McCart, Stoneridge Farms LLC, et al.

■Court: Lincoln County Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorneys: David P. Bub, Jennine Adamek-Moore and Brandon B. Copeland, Brown and James, St. Louis

■Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Ronald D. Kwentus Jr., Vatterott Shaffar & Dolan, St. Louis

38. $50,000 (tie)

Property damage

■Case: Green Acres Land Development Co. v. First Banks Inc., Andrew Schmidt, ATEC Liquidations Inc., et al.

■Court: St. Charles County Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorneys: David P. Bub and Chad M. deRoode, Brown & James, St. Louis; Patrick J. Boyle, Gunn & Gunn, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorney: Timothy E. Hogan, Law Office of Timothy Hogan, St. Louis

42. $25,000 (tie)

Personal injury

■Case: Thomas v. Fast Stop Inc. and Abdeljabbar

■Court: St. Louis County Circuit Court

■Defendants’ Attorney: David M. Wilkins, Brown & James, St. Louis

■Plaintiff’s Attorney: Robert Parson, Willis and Parson, St. Louis


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