The overall size of the Top 10 Jury Verdicts rose again in 2012.
The average increased by almost $20 million, rising from just under $184 million to $203 million.
By contrast, the average for 2011 increased by around $27 million over 2010.
In 2012, the top award was substantially greater than the top verdict of the prior year – $716.5 million versus $482 million in 2011.
But after the No. 1 verdict, the drop was much steeper this year as compared to last year: The No. 2 award was $179.7 million, and the No. 3 award was $178 million.
All of the verdicts in this year’s Top 10 were greater than $100 million. The lowest award was $109 million, $19.4 million more than the No. 10 award in 2011.
The year’s massive top verdict was awarded against a convenience store for selling alcohol to a teenager who plowed into another vehicle, killing its occupant. The #2 verdict went to three workers burned in an explosion at a grain silo who were awarded more than $179 million against ConAgra Foods for failing to clean up stored wheat that became combustible.
Lawyers USA compiles the Top 10 Jury Verdicts each year, applying certain rules. First, verdicts must be awarded to an individual plaintiff, defined as a single person, family or small group of individuals injured in a single incident, who had their claims tried in a single case before the same jury.
Second, we do not include business-against-business suits, class actions or consolidated cases. Finally, cases must have been defended – default verdicts and suits against incarcerated individuals are not included.
– Susan A. Bocamazo
The Top 10 Jury Verdicts of 2012
In May, a small-firm attorney won a massive $716.5 million verdict against a convenience store for selling alcohol to a teenager who plowed into another vehicle, killing its occupant.
Lawyers representing three workers burned in an explosion at a grain silo won more than $179 million in June against ConAgra Foods for failing to clean up stored wheat that became combustible.
Last January, a Florida jury awarded $178 million to a former deputy sheriff whose botched weight-loss surgery left him in a wheelchair unable to care for himself.
In the largest verdict to an individual employment plaintiff in United States history, a California jury awarded $167.7 million last February to a cardiac surgery physician assistant who suffered sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
In November, the former principal of a successful charter school won a disputed $155.7 million verdict against the city manager for destroying her reputation.
A New York woman who claims she sat unattended in a hospital for hours while medical personnel negligently failed to diagnose her heart attack won a $144.7 million jury verdict in October.
Sharron Juno died because of a typo.
A lifelong diabetic, Juno had her insulin dosage dictated by her doctor in Alabama but transcribed by an outsourced sub-contractor in India, who wrote “80” instead of “8.”
In a rare case of “triple malpractice,” a jury awarded $121.5 million against three hospitals that treated a patient during a one-month period, which began with an office visit for seizure medication, progressed to a severe allergic skin reaction and ended with brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.
A woman who suffered a severed spinal cord and traumatic brain injury in an ambulance crash that occurred while she was seven months pregnant was awarded nearly $117 million by a Louisiana jury in August.
Calling it both the worst case he has seen as a trial lawyer and one of the easiest cases he has tried, Shanin Specter won a $109 million jury verdict for the family of a woman killed when a power line fell and electrocuted her.
Read last year’s special feature: Top 10 Jury Verdicts of 2011
And here’s a look back at last year’s Top 10: Where are they now? A look back at the top verdicts of 2011