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SEVERAL MOBILE JURIES SIDE WITH PLAINTIFFS

Feb 27, 2006

By GARY McELROY
Staff Reporter Mobile Register


In three civil cases ending Feb. 17 in different Mobile County courtrooms, juries awarded one plaintiff more than $10 million, another $4 million and still another $750,000 for injuries sustained either in a fall or medical mishaps.

The jury awards went to a man knocked off a portable scaffolding, a woman who had a section of a catheter left inside her during a medical procedure and the family of a man who died after receiving medication.

All three cases were won by Mobile attorneys. Two were won by members of the same law firm within hours of each other.

As a general rule, considering appeals and other procedures involved in civil cases, it can take as long as two years from the time a jury renders a verdict to the actual delivery of cash or other assets to the winner.

The jury awards went to:

Randy Scheurer, 46, an electrician who was working inside a Target distribution center in Huntsville on Dec. 10, 2003, standing on a portable scaffold called a "scissor lift." According to court records, a Target employee operating a forklift, or "stock picker," drove into the scaffold, knocking Scheurer to the concrete floor below.

Scheurer fell about 20 feet, according to his attorneys Mike Worel and Tucker Yance of the Mobile law firm of Cunningham Bounds.

When he fell, Scheurer sustained a broken back and spinal injuries, a fractured shoulder and ribs, pelvic fractures, and other injuries.

He was later determined to be permanently disabled, Worel said.

Worel and Yance argued that according to Target's own documentation, the driver of the forklift had a history of unsafe behavior and that on the day of Scheurer's injuries, the driver failed to heed standard safety procedures.

The trial, held before Circuit Judge Sarah Stewart, lasted about a week. The jury deliberated for an hour.

They awarded Scheurer $10.25 million, about equally divided between compensatory and punitive damages.

Larry Larrimore, 50, who was admitted at Springhill Medical Center's emergency room on Aug. 15, 2001, with knee pain, according to court records and attorney Toby Brown, also of Cunningham Bounds, representing Larrimore's family.

A drug called Colchicine was administered to Larrimore, which caused kidney failure and killed him three days later, Brown argued.

By prescribing and administering the drug, the hospital and the facility's pharmacy in particular failed to safeguard Larrimore's well-being, according to the plaintiffs.

The trial before Presiding Mobile County Circuit Judge Charles Graddick lasted a week. Jurors deliberated for about three hours before delivering a $4 million verdict against the hospital.

Bobby Joan Williamson, 64, who, according to court records, suffered a work-related injury in 1995 and underwent a pain-management procedure at Mobile Infirmary in August 1999. The procedure involved a device designed to treat diseased spinal discs by applying heat through a needle and catheter.

Court records show Dr. Thomas Yearwood was the physician; the device was made by Oratec Interventions Inc.

Williamson, through her Mobile attorney, Chris Galanos, a former circuit judge, sued the Infirmary, the doctor and the device's maker.

According to court records, as the device was being extracted from Williamson's back, part of the catheter broke off. As jurors were told during the two-week trial before Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae, it still remains in Williamson's body.

Galanos, along with Atmore attorneys Charles and Timothy Godwin, argued that the object continues to give Williamson emotional distress and that it has the potential of causing paralysis or death.

Prior to the trial, the plaintiff dropped the Infirmary from the suit.

After two hours of deliberation, a jury exonerated the device's manufacturer.

"The plaintiff failed to prove that the product was defective in any way," said Oratec's attorney, Carroll Sullivan.

Jurors did, however, decide against the physician, Yearwood, and awarded Williamson $750,000 in damages.

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