LITIGATION DEPARTMENT OF THE YEAR - Mid-Size Firm  ALM's Daily Report   2017 - 2016 - 2014

WWHGD Does It Again: One Week, Two Defense Verdicts

For the second time in only three months, Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial received defense verdicts on behalf of its clients in two separate cases in one week. In August, WWHGD defended two unrelated catastrophic cases that also each received a defense verdict in one week.

Partners Thomas Strueber and Lawrence Burkhalter defended an aviation case in Duval County Circuit Court in Florida. The case involved allegations arising from a July 11, 2009 crash of an experimental aircraft in which both occupants of the plane were killed. The suit was filed by the Estate of Patrick Cummings, one of the aircraft occupants, against the Estate of Michael Harris, the other occupant and owner of the subject aircraft. The plaintiff alleged that Harris was negligent in the operation of the aircraft resulting in the death of Cummings. WWHGD presented evidence that Harris was an exceptionally skilled pilot, having served as a Top Gun instructor and pilot in the U.S. Navy with over 1,000 carrier landings and as a Captain for a major airline for many years. “Is it likely a Top Gun pilot suddenly forgot how to fly an airplane while doing a simple flight maneuver?” Mr. Strueber asked the jury. WWHGD argued that, instead, Cummings had been flying the plane at the time control was lost. The plaintiff asked the jury to award $30 million in damages. After less than an hour of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict.

In the second case, partner Robert Tanner defended client Vainer & Vainer Nephrology Consultants, P.C. in a medical malpractice suit filed in Fulton County State Court in Georgia. An 81-year-old woman died of an intracranial bleed in January 2009. Prior to her death, she had started kidney dialysis. In addition to her kidney disorder, she also had heart ailments and was placed on a blood thinner by her cardiologist; the medicine allegedly caused a brain bleed. Her family alleged that the doctors at the dialysis clinic did not regulate her heart medications and, therefore, had breached their duty of care. They asked the jury to award $3 to $8 million in damages. The jury delivered a defense verdict in less than one hour.

“Our attorneys are skilled and methodical when defending our clients, which is proven by how quickly juries render verdicts in our favor in so many of our cases,” said David Dial. 

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