Verdicts and Settlements

Products Liability — $10,000,000.00 verdict

Walton v. Black & Decker (Oklahoma County CJ 1985-6585): Greg Walton was burned over 80% of his body and horribly scarred by an oilfield fire and explosion sparked by an electric impact wrench. The jury found the tool was defective because it was not explosion-proof (there’s a way to make it safe) and did not have a warning not to use it in flammable environments.

Read more about the Black & Decker case — and Greg Walton’s inspiring transformation of tragedy into hope — in this 2003 Los Angeles Times article.

Sexual Assault/Rape — $5,000,000.00 verdict

Tharp v. Magnum Foods (Oklahoma County CJ 1990-5857): Our client, a sixteen year old girl, was raped by her supervisor after closing down the pizza place where they both worked. The management of the company had warnings and complaints about the supervisor prior to the rape. He also had a record of molestation and had been fired from a previous job for sexual harassment. The jury awarded $5,000,000.00 against the rapist, and $1,425,000.00 against the employer including punitive damages.

Delivery company liability — settlement, $1,250,000.00

A delivery route driver fell asleep on the highway and hit and killed our client’s husband, who was the supervisor for a road-painting company. The driver had told her boss she was too tired to make the trip but was told to either do it or get fired. This was settled under a “structured settlement” which paid our client a lump sum, but also monthly payments for the rest of her life since her husband was her sole provider.

Trucking company liability — settlement, $900,000.00

Our client was rear-ended by a semi. She had a congenital birth defect which caused her to live with only one arm, which was injured in the impact from this wreck. This particular client was one of the most inspiring and warmest people I have ever represented.

Trucking company liability — settlement, $450,000.00

Our client’s son was killed when his girlfriend/fiancee passed an oversize truck as they were entering a no-passing zone. Another car came over a hill and there was a head-on collision. Settlement was with the estate of girlfriend, and with the trucking company which had contributed to the collision.

Medical malpractice — verdict — laparoscopic cholecystectomy

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the use of a scope and television instruments to repair a damaged gall bladder without actually cutting the abdomen open. The defendant physician cut the common bile duct during the procedure, and failed to realize he had done it. Our client got terribly ill from the bile in his abdomen, but once it was recognized and repaired had a good recovery. This is the only “lap chole” case of many tried in Oklahoma which was won by the injured person.

Nursing home negligence — $650,000.00 settlement

Mary was 62 and fell and fractured her hip. She had to stay in a nursing home during a period of rehabilitation. While there she developed a bedsore, which was not prevented or treated properly in the nursing home. It developed into gangrene and sepsis and she nearly died. She was put in an oxygen chamber (hyperbaric) which killed off the anaerobic bacteria which caused the infection, but was unable to walk properly for the rest of her life. We established that the nursing home had a pattern of “rote charting”, in which nurses and staff documented following doctors orders routinely when they had actually not done so. The case settled the day before trial in federal court.

Nursing home — $750,000.00 settlement

Mr. Davis was elderly and had severe Alzheimer’s. Somehow (nobody seemed to know) he got a fractured leg. It was put in a cast by a doctor. A nurse noticed there was seepage through the cast, a sign that the bones inside the leg had shifted and punctured the skin. This was ignored. When somebody at the nursing home finally decided to call for help, Mr. Davis had gangrene, sepsis, pneumonia, bronchitis, three fractured ribs, dehydration, and malnutrition.

The nursing home was owned by an investor out of state, who hired a management company from Kansas, who understaffed the home and ripped off much of the money for nursing home staff and supplies. Mr. Davis died subsequently, but even with his severe illnesses, injuries, and dementia, the day before he died he opened up his eyes, looked at his eldest son, and told him he loved him. The case has a special place in my heart because my dad did that with me the day he died.

Automobile liability — $1,200,000.00 settlement

Paul was a 42-year old man with quite severe developmental disabilities. He could barely print a few words and do extremely simple arithmetic. He had a serious speech impediment. He lived in a trailer park with another disabled man, and through a DHS program they had round-the-clock assistance from a contractor for DHS. The contractor’s employee was giving Paul a ride to his job at the Burger King. She took some pills, dropped her phone, lost control of her car, and skidded off the right side of a four-lane road in Edmond so hard that it dropped a huge metal light tower on top of the car before she bounced other way and hit a car coming from the opposite direction.

Paul had multiple fractures, spinal injuries, and possibly a further brain injury. He had surgery to repair damaged discs in his neck. As part of the settlement a “special needs trust” was set up which allowed Paul to receive services and facilities that he could not have access to through DHS alone.

Automotive product liability — confidential settlement

Susan was a successful businesswoman from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She was on vacation in Florida with her family. She drove her dad’s nearly new Buick Park Avenue from the resort, planning to go and get some groceries. Smoke started coming out from under the hood of the car, and melted plastic and other burning fluids dripped on her feet. When she put on the brakes and tried to get out, the automatic door locks jammed, trapping Susan in the burning car. Somehow she was able to force the door open and get out, but the burns on her feet caused her to develop CRPS, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, an ugly and terribly painful illness.

During investigation, we found at least fifty other cases in which people got trapped inside their burning vehicles from this manufacturer due to defects in the automatic lock system. We also identified an engineering change order from the manufacturer which showed that they had recognized and corrected the defect that caused the fire in the engine compartment. At mediation, the lawyer who represented the automobile manufacturer sincerely apologized to my client for what they had done to her. Even better than an apology, they paid her considerable compensation for her injuries.

Sexual assault by therapist — confidential settlement

Dianne was a true MPD — multiple personality disorder — now known as DID, Dissociative Identify Disorder. Her therapist, Jaime Gonazalez, was a sexual predator. He identified Dianne’s disorder and took advantage of it.

She was the perfect victim, because every MPD has a sexual personality, and they cannot remember what happens when they are in a different personality.  The rapist worked at a clinic in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They had at least four prior complaints on him from clients reporting sexual advances during therapy. The complaints were essentially ignored, and Gonzalez got raises, compliments, and promotions annually. Of course Gonzalez denied he had any relations with Dianne.

I love this case because my young partner, Carol Keeter, canvassed every hotel and motel in Lawton, and found the hotel registrations papers in Gonzalez’s handwriting, with a description of Dianne’s vehicle and license plate number, and Gonzalez’s signature.

I hated the case because Dianne committed suicide. We reported Gonzalez to the Oklahoma authorities, and in addition to a substantial confidential settlement we got his license to practice suspended. In fairness, he should go to jail for the rest of his life so he won’t hurt any others. That hasn’t happened yet, unfortunately.

If you want to hire a personal injury attorney who will fight for positive results in your case, contact me now for a free confidential case evaluation.

— Gregory H. Haubrich

The Haubrich Law Firm

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