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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California November2008
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Exposure to asbestos
Award: $14,876,000
Foreign national engineer was diagnosed with mesothelioma after years of exposure to asbestos at oil refineries (Shahabi v. A.W. Chesterton, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Michael Armitage).

Infant brain damage
Award: $2,750,000
Newborn’s mother claimed severe brain damage to infant as a result of improper use of vacuum extraction device during delivery (Samatra v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, San Francisco County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Jennifer L. Cutler).

Steering malfunction
Award: Defense
The death of a driver whose SUV swerved off the roadway and plummeted into a 40-foot sinkhole was attributed to a faulty power steering hose clamp (Farinacci-Nyberg v. Mercedes-Benz USA, Riverside County Superior Court, Defense attorney: Matthew R. Rogers).

Citibank theft
Award: $3,800,000
State of California sued Citibank for its practice of “sweeping” overpayments or positive account balances of credit cardholders, especially deceased ones, into Citibank’s general ledger under the line item “legal fees collected” and zeroing out the cardholder’s account

(State of California v. Citigroup Inc., Sacramento County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: Edmund G. Brown Jr.).

Employee termination
Award: $1,180,164
Employers of a hospital worker terminated her because of the restrictions placed on her by her doctor (Ismen v. Beverly Hospital, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Plaintiff attorney: David M. deRubertis).

Copyright infringement
Award: $100,031,500
Toymaker Mattel alleged MGA Entertainment stole its fashion doll, Bratz, because the designer was a former Mattel employee who signed an agreement before leaving Mattel, giving away the rights to any ideas conceived while in their employ (Mattel Inc. v. MGA Entertainment Inc., Central District Federal Court, Plaintiff attorney: John B. Quinn).

Railroad crossing
Award: Defense
Driver who collided with a truck at a railroad crossing failed in her attempts to blame the railroad for unsafe activation of crossing lights (Velting v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., Stanislaus County Superior Court, Defense attorney: Brian W. Plummer).

Forest fire
Award: $102,000,000
Storrie fire, which burned over 56,000 acres in Northern California, was ignited during a midday repair operation by Union Pacific track maintenance workers (United States of America v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., Eastern District Federal Court, Plaintiff attorney: Kendall J. Newman).

Editor's Note: California Bar Journal publishes this abbreviated summary of important trials in California provided by Trials Digest, a Thomson West business. To report your case results, go to west.thomson.com/trialsdigest/form.asp or call 415-344-6000.

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