Top Jury Verdicts Rise Again in 2011

The size of the top 10 jury awards rose for a fourth consecutive year in 2011, according to a recent report from Lawyers USA.

The 10 largest jury verdicts in 2011 totaled $1.84 billion, an increase of 15 percent from $1.6 billion in 2010.

Lawyers USA noted that the average award for 2011 increased by $27 million, rising to just under $184 million from nearly $157 million the prior year.

While the top award was slightly lower in 2011 – $482 million versus $505.1 million in 2010 – the drop this year was much less steep to the #2 award of $322 million and the #3 award of $212 million.

Further, the lowest award in this year’s Top Ten was nearly $90 million, almost $10 million more than the #10 award in 2010.

Here are the key takeaways:

– In the year’s top verdict – a patent infringement case – a Texas jury awarded $482 million to a radiologist on his claim that a medical stent manufacturer willfully infringed his patent.

– This year’s #2 award – the largest single plaintiff’s asbestos verdict in U.S. history – went to a Mississippi man who sued two companies for failing to warn of the dangers of asbestos particles he claimed he inhaled at work. The award has since been vacated.

– Another asbestos case made this year’s #10 as an Illinois jury awarded $89.6 million ($80 million of it in punitives) against four defendants in a suit brought by a former pipefitter suffering from mesothelioma.

– And two of the Top Ten this year involved a rash of hepatitis C infections caused by contaminated vials of anesthetic at Las Vegas colonoscopy and endoscopy clinics, the same litigation that gave rise to the #1 verdict last year.

Lawyers USA compiles the Top 10 Jury Verdicts each year applying certain ground rules. Verdicts must be 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 one case before the same jury.

The list does not include business-against-business suits, class actions or consolidated suits. Cases must have been defended and default verdicts and suits against incarcerated individuals are not included.

Check out I.I.I. info on the liability system.

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