New and noteworthy verdicts and settlements from around the country, selected by VerdictSearch editors. Find out about the case most relevant to your practice, with complete details on awards and settlements; injuries claimed; experts, attorneys, insurers and judges involved; and more.
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Find out about the most important recent Florida cases, selected by VerdictSearch editors. Coverage includes Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties.
Jury awards nearly $3.2 million to mom permanently injured by daughter
A jury has awarded about $3 million to a mother who sought punitive damages against her daughter for causing an alcohol-related vehicle crash that seriously injured her and a granddaughter. Patricia Mahaffey, then 89, had her left leg crushed when her daughter’s vehicle plowed into her and her pregnant granddaughter in Orlando in 2013 as they unloaded groceries from their parked vehicle at home. The pregnant granddaughter’s baby was delivered safely by emergency delivery. The granddaughter sustained bodily injuries and recovered. The daughter, Penny Hitchcock, pleaded guilty to felony driving under the influence of alcohol and conceded negligence in the civil suit brought by Mahaffey. The jury determined her damages totaled $3,189,200.
Mahaffey v. Hitchcock
Jury awards passenger $1.1 million after trip and fall on bucket during cruise
A trip and fall on a cruise ship has led to a seven-figure damage award. Joyce Higgs, then 67, claimed she tripped and fell on a cleaning bucket while walking from the ship's breakfast buffet to her daughter's table in Dec. 2014. Higgs, who sued ship owner Costa Crociere S.P.A. Company for negligence, fractured her left arm, tore its rotator cuff and bicep tendon, and cited residual pain and limitations performing daily activities. Her maritime safety expert opined using buckets full of water instead of spray bottles violated cruise ship industry standards. The defense argued Higgs' trip was due to not looking down and not paying attention, but the jury found the company 85 percent liable, for a $1,118,877 net award for Higgs.
Higgs v. Costa Crociere S.P.A. Co.
U.S. District Court, Southern District, Fort Lauderdale
Adult awarded $172,000 after company denied maintenance worker job, due to race
An adult has prevailed in a discrimination case. Fitz Austrum, who is black, sued Federal Cleaning Contractors, alleging the firm had refused to hire him as a maintenance worker in 2013 because of his race. He alleged a firm official in charge of a work site's hiring discriminated against him. The defense denied the charges, arguing Austrum was offered a morning or afternoon job, but declined because he sought an overnight shift, which fit his lifestyle. The judge ruled that because Federal had discarded Austrum's employment application, the jury should presume he was truthful when he testified he applied for any shift or job. The jury found that race was a factor in Federal's refusal to hire Austrum, and awarded him $172,195 in damages.
Austrum v. Federal Cleaning Contractors Inc.
U.S. District Court, Southern District, West Palm Beach
|$32,000,000||HPC US Fund 1, L.P. v. Wood||Federal||Feb 17|
|$23,148,100||Stephens v. Bradshaw||Federal||Feb 3|
|$2,000,000||Guarantee Insurance Co. v. Heffernan Insurance Brokers Inc.||Federal||Feb 23|
|$1,881,000||Rankin v. Park One Holdings, LLC||Miami-Dade Co.||Feb 5|
|$1,316,326||Higgs v. Costa Crociere S.P.A. Co.||Federal||Mar 4|
|$1,125,000||Ronco v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.||Federal||Jan 15|
|$1,000,000||Bargain Bob's Carpets Inc. v. Stein||Federal||Jan 21|
|$896,621||Mueller v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois||Federal||Feb 3|
|$511,400||Wheeler v. Benchimol||Flagler Co.||Jan 8|
|$340,000||Mancuso-Weiland v. City of Fort Lauderdale||Broward Co.||Jan 27|