Allen & Allen Verdicts Topped the Largest Verdicts of 2013

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Allen & Allen is pleased to announce that three of its attorneys were featured in Virginia Lawyers Weekly's article "Virginia's Largest Verdicts of 2013."

Taking the #1 position with the largest verdict in Virginia during 2013 were attorneys Jason W. Konvicka and Malcolm P. McConnell, III with the $25 Million verdict in the medical malpractice case, Denton v. Chu, M.D. . This failure to diagnose case involved a cardiologist who failed to detect coronary artery blockage. This case also marks the largest medical malpractice verdict in Virginia state court history.

Tied for the #6 position was attorney P. Christopher Guedri with the $5 Million verdict in Cousins v. Food Lion LLC, a premises liability case. The case involved a catastrophic traumatic brain injury suffered by a woman who was knocked down while shopping in a Food Lion grocery store.

The two cases are outlined below. Allen & Allen is Virginia's oldest and largest personal injury law firm handling plaintiff's personal injury case including medical malpractice, auto accidents, tractor trailer accidents, product liability, premises liability, brain injury and wrongful death.

Source: Virginia Lawyers Weekly; by Sarah Rodriguez; Published January 21, 2014;

#1 – $25 Million: Cardiologist failed to detect artery blockage

Case name: Denton v. Chu, M.D.
Type of case: Medical malpractice
Court: Hampton Circuit Court
Attorneys: Jason W. Konvicka and Malcolm P. McConnell III, Richmond

Summary: A Hampton jury handed down a $25 million verdict last February to a man who suffered a massive heart attack after a cardiologist failed to detect an artery blockage. The award appears to be the largest personal injury award out of Hampton and the largest medical malpractice award in a Virginia state court.

The plaintiff was a fit, active 37-year-old at the time of his 2010 heart attack. Although he had no common risk factors or family history of heart disease, he was taken to the hospital after experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating and jaw pain. His EKGs were read as normal.

The following day, he was seen by the defendant cardiologist. The defendant performed a cardiac catheterization to rule out heart disease. Both during and following the procedure, the plaintiff was told that his arteries were clear, normal and free of disease. He was diagnosed with pericarditis, a viral infection of the heart sac, and instructed to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Plaintiff's chest pain and shortness of breath continued for the two months, and doctors continued to treat him for pericarditis based on the defendant's cath report. Plaintiff ultimately suffered a massive heart attack. During emergency treatment, doctors discovered a complete blockage of the plaintiff's left anterior descending artery.

The plaintiff survived the heart attack, but has since undergone eight cardiac caths and coronary bypass surgery. He was in stage II or III heart failure at the time of trial, and had lost more than half of his heart function.

Plaintiff learned that his heart attack could have been prevented, as the doctor who treated his heart attack noted a 70 percent artery blockage in the defendant's original cath report. Plaintiff claimed that, had the blockage been diagnosed two months prior to his heart attack, a stent procedure and course of medication would have allowed him to live a normal, healthy life.

During the four-day trial, plaintiff's experts testified that he will need a future heart transplant and has only a 50 percent chance of living another 10 years. The jury deliberated for three and a half hours before returning a $25 million verdict, plus interest of $4.5 million.

#6 (tie) – $5 Million: Woman disabled in grocery store fall

Case name: Cousins v. Food Lion LLC
Type of case: Personal injury, slip-and-fall
Court: Gloucester County Circuit Court
Attorneys: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond

Summary: A Gloucester County jury awarded a record-tying $5 million verdict to a woman who became disabled after falling in a supermarket in 2006.

Plaintiff was 64 years old when a stock cart allegedly knocked her to the floor at her local Food Lion store. She suffered severe traumatic brain injury.

Prior to the fall, the college-educated plaintiff was gainfully employed, but her injury left her with an IQ of 69 and made her dependent on 24-hour home care.

Her bid for recovery fell short in a 2009 Gloucester County jury trial. During that trial, the defense brought series of photos from an in-store camera into evidence. While Food Lion conceded the negligence of their employee who was pushing the cart, the defense argued that the plaintiff should have seen the dolly full of merchandise approaching her. Jurors concluded she was at fault for failing to see the stock cart.

Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the grainy photos failed to show whether the plaintiff was keeping a proper lookout. The Supreme Court of Virginia granted her a second trial after ruling that surveillance photos should not have been admitted into evidence because the defense did not establish the accuracy of the time stamps.

For the re-trial, defendants brought experts to testify about the time stamp accuracy. The circuit court ruled that the jury should again be allowed to see the photos. Unable to keep the images out of court, plaintiff's counsel decided to treat the photos as if they were part of his own case.

The second jury trial lasted three days. Plaintiff rejected an offer of $1.25 million before the jury went out.

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