Selected Results and Success Stories
In many of these cases, especially where the defendants have entered into multi-million dollar settlements, they have insisted upon confidential settlement agreements that prohibit disclosure of the actual dollar amount of the settlement.
Carver v. Uniroyal: Quadriplegia - $7.6 million Verdict
The 23-year-old plaintiff in this case was rendered a quadriplegic when a tire failed on the pickup truck in which he had been riding as a passenger. Within three months of the date initially set for trial, Mr. Goldstein was asked to associate into the case as co-counsel by Mr. Carver’s attorney at that time, Ned Good. Mr. Good, an attorney of national renown, asked Mr. Goldstein to assume responsibility for proving up the issue of “tire defect” at trial. Following a ten-week trial, the jury rendered a verdict in Mr. Carver’s favor in the amount of $7.6 million.
The defendant filed an appeal, and three years later, the Appellate Court reversed the judgment and ordered the case to trial a second time. After five weeks in trial, the defendant agreed to settle the case for a confidential amount.
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Baxter and Hilde v. Denman: Two Deaths - $8 million Settlement
In this case, Mr. Goldstein was associated as co-counsel to represent the parents of two young men, ages 18 and 21, who were killed in a single vehicle rollover incident, caused by a tire failure. Both young men were exceptional baseball players and each had been drafted by Major League Baseball teams – the 21-year-old was a first round draft pick for the San Diego Padres. The case was filed against several defendants, including the tire manufacturer and various retail outlets who had performed services on the decedent’s vehicle. To date, more than $8 million has been recovered on behalf of the two families. The case is still being prosecuted against one remaining defendant.
Ortega v. Goodyear: Severe Brain Injury – Confidential Settlement
Miguel Ortega, a 30-year-old ironworker, suffered a severe brain injury when his utility truck rolled over following the belt/tread separation of a Goodyear “load range E” tire. In the course of pre-trial investigation, Mr. Goldstein was able to obtain copies of more than 15,000 pages of documents from Goodyear, which revealed that the tire company had a widespread problem with separation failures in its entire “load range E” light truck tire line. The severity of his injuries precluded Mr. Ortega from ever returning to gainful employment. His projected wage loss, together with his future medical care was estimated at $4,885,502. Mr. Goldstein was able to achieve a confidential settlement with Goodyear just before the trial was scheduled to begin.
Patel v. Goodrich: Three Deaths & Two Brain Injuries – Trial – Confidential Settlement
Three adult members of the Patel family were killed, and two young children suffered brain injuries in this tire-failure incident which occurred in the desert outside of Los Angeles. The future medical care costs for the brain-injured children alone were in excess of $6 million. Mr. Goldstein was associated into this case as co-counsel approximately three years after the date of the accident, and just a few months before trial, to assume the role of lead trial counsel on all tire issues. The case was bifurcated into two phases – liability and damages. After a four-week trial on liability, Mr. Goldstein obtained a unanimous jury verdict against the tire manufacturer on all tire defect issues. The “damages” phase of the trial lasted an additional six weeks before the case settled – for a confidential sum – one day before the jury was set to deliberate.
Covert v. Goodrich: Severe Brain Injury – Trial – Confidential Settlement
While working as a service station attendant, Roy Covert, age 55, was provided with two new tires by a U.S. Postal Service employee, and directed to mount the tires on the USPS truck. Unfortunately, neither of these two individuals realized that the tires and wheels were actually ‘mis-matched’ - the tires were 16 inches in diameter, and the wheels were 16.5 inches in diameter. As Mr. Covert inflated the mismatched tire and rim assembly, the tire suffered a violent explosion. The force of the explosion propelled the steel rim against Mr. Covert’s forehead, causing massive brain injury. The severity of his injuries requires that he receive 24-hour medical care and supervision for the rest of his life, at a cost of several million dollars.
In the course of his investigation, Mr. Goldstein discovered that this ‘mismatch’ potential was actually well known to the tire manufacturing industry as a whole. In fact, before the date of Mr. Covert’s incident, there had been several hundred ‘mismatch’ explosions, resulting in countless catastrophic injuries and deaths. Mr. Goldstein was able to obtain pre-trial settlements from two of the defendants, and proceeded to trial against the tire manufacturer in the U.S. District Court in San Diego. In the second week of trial, the case was settled for a confidential amount, thereby providing sufficient funds for Mr. Covert’s lifetime medical care costs.
Hawk v. Goodrich: Severe Brain Injury – Confidential Settlement
Raymond Hawk, like Roy Covert, was injured in a tire-rim mismatch explosion while employed as a service station attendant. He also sustained a severe brain injury and requires lifetime medical care and supervision. Because of the extraordinary knowledge and insight into the mismatch phenomenon that Mr. Goldstein had obtained in the course of the Covert litigation, he was able to achieve a confidential settlement with both the tire manufacturer and the wheel manufacturer, well in advance of trial.
Covington v. Ford and Firestone: Two Deaths – Confidential Settlement
Helen and Gregory Covington, Sr., husband and wife (ages 58 and 60), were both killed when the Firestone tire on their Ford Explorer suffered a belt/tread separation failure. The belt detachment at highway speed led to a loss of vehicular control and rollover. The case was filed on behalf of their three adult sons and ultimately settled for a confidential amount with both Ford and Firestone.
Bevineau v. Goodrich: Paraplegia – Confidential Settlement
Helen Bevineau, age 83, was one of several passengers that were injured in the course of a single vehicle rollover, following a tire belt/tread separation. (Mr. Goldstein also represented all of the other persons injured in the incident, as well as the heirs of the one passenger that was killed). Ms. Bevineau suffered a severe injury to her spinal cord and was rendered a paraplegic. These cases had already been pending for three years when Mr. Goldstein was first asked to appear as co-counsel in these cases. Within 10 months of his appearance and participation in these cases, they were all settled for confidential amounts.
Cohen v. Ford and Firestone: Traumatic Arm Amputation – Confidential Settlement
Vivian Cohen, a 31-year old wife and mother of two young boys, suffered a traumatic amputation of her left arm when the Ford Explorer in which she was riding as a passenger rolled over after the belt/tread separation of a Firestone tire. The incident actually occurred in Panama, but was prosecuted in a Texas State Court. The Ford Explorer (with its original equipment Firestone tires) had been purchased as a new vehicle, and had been manufactured in, and shipped from the United States. The case was settled for a confidential amount.
Elliott v. Goodyear: Death – Confidential Settlement
David Elliott, a 47-year-old electrician, was killed when a tire on his pickup truck suffered a belt/tread separation failure, which led to a loss of control and vehicle rollover. Mr. Elliott was survived by his wife of 15 years. In the course of pre-trial investigation, Mr. Goldstein took the depositions of several tire company employees who had worked in Goodyear’s manufacturing facility in Brazil, where the subject tire had been made. With the benefit of this testimony regarding the practices of the tire plant employees, Mr. Goldstein was able to settle the case for a confidential amount.
Barnes v. Continental: Death – Confidential Settlement
Gordon Barnes, age 68, suffered fatal injuries when his pickup truck flipped over, end-for-end, following a belt/tread separation failure. The incident occurred on a federal highway near the town of Loreto, in Baja, Mexico, where Mr. Barnes, a retired Intelligence Consultant, and his wife owned vacation property. Mr. Barnes was survived by his wife and two adult sons. The case was settled for a confidential amount.
Villalobos v. Toyota: Quadriplegia – Confidential Settlement
Ms. Villalobos, age 41, was a passenger in her friend’s Toyota Land Cruiser when it was struck by another vehicle and rolled over. She suffered traumatic injury to her cervical spine/spinal cord, and was rendered a quadriplegic. Mr. Goldstein and his co-counsel argued that the risk of rollover in the Land Cruiser was unreasonable in light of the vehicle’s high center of gravity, together with its narrow track width. The case was settled for a confidential amount.
Andrade v. Ford: Paraplegia – Confidential Settlement
Leo Andrade, age 31, was rendered a paraplegic when the Ford Explorer in which he was riding left the roadway and rolled over. Mr. Goldstein and his co-counsel argued that the risk of rollover in the Ford Explorer was unreasonable in light of the vehicle’s high center of gravity, together with its narrow track width. The case was settled for a confidential amount.
John Doe v. Medtronics: Essential Tremor – Device Failure – Confidential Settlement
As the result of a condition known as “essential tremor”, Mr. Doe, age 66, a radiation scientist, was experiencing an ever increasing shaking of his arms and hands. At the recommendation of his neurosurgeon, Mr. Doe underwent the implantation of an electrode in his brain - which provided dramatic reduction of his symptoms. Within two years of surgery, the Medtronic-manufactured device failed. The wire linking the electrode to the ‘pulse generator’ fractured, and the tremors returned at full strength. Despite a subsequent attempt at re-implantation, the surgeon was unable to regain any significant relief of the tremor symptoms. In the course of pre-trial investigation, Mr. Goldstein discovered that there had been several similar incidents of wire fracture in these Medtronic devices, most of which pre-dated the failure of Mr. Doe’s device. With the benefit of this information, Mr. Goldstein was able to achieve a confidential settlement with Medtronic, as well as with the Neurosurgeon, who had allegedly received notice of this potential problem.
Jane Doe v. AHP: Fen-Phen – Primary Pulmonary Hypertension – Confidential Settlement
At the recommendation of her physician, Jane Doe took the prescription medication, Fen-Phen, for several months as an adjunct to her weight loss program. Several years after her use of the medication, she began experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue. She was ultimately diagnosed with a condition known as Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (“PPH”). The average life span from the date of diagnosis of PPH to death is less than 10 years. While the significant risk of PPH was well known to the pharmaceutical manufacturer, American Home Products (AHP), they had deliberately chosen to omit the actual frequency of Fen-Phen related PPH from its package insert. AHP argued that Ms. Doe’s medical condition was unrelated to her Fen-Phen use years earlier. The case was ultimately settled for a confidential amount.
Motor Vehicle Negligence
Card v. Kirkwood: Cervical Spine Pain- Depression – Trial - $1.3 million Verdict
Ms. Card, a 42-year-old executive assistant, was seated in a vehicle parked in front of a construction site, when it was rear-ended by a forklift driven by an employee of the defendant. While the forklift was only going approximately 8 mph, the force of the impact was substantial due to the extraordinary weight of the forklift. Ms. Card sustained injuries to her neck and back and ultimately underwent cervical spine surgery, after a year of conservative treatment. She continued to suffer from severe pain and began to suffer symptoms of depression. She subsequently resigned from her job because of her ongoing physical and emotional symptoms. Following a two-week trial, Mr. Goldstein obtained a verdict of $1.3 million dollars.
Doe Family v. Roe: Death - $1.55 million Settlement
A 67-year-old mother was killed in a two-car collision when the defendant driver failed to yield the right of way at an intersection. The decedent was survived by several adult children.
John Doe v. Roe: Orthopedic Injuries - $1.05 million Settlement
A young man received severe orthopedic injuries in a two-car collision when the defendant driver failed to yield the right of way.
Hewitt v. Lisk: Orthopedic Injuries – Trial - $450,000 Verdict
Lara Hewitt, a 16-year-old high school junior, received severe orthopedic injuries when she lost control of her vehicle as she driving through a curve in the roadway. She collided with a tree in the median and was then broad-sided by the 18-year-old defendant, Lisk. The defendant’s insurer initially refused to pay the $15,000 limits of his policy when demanded by Ms. Hewitt’s original attorney. When further investigation revealed that the defendant may have been ‘chasing’ Ms. Hewitt’s vehicle, the insurer offered $25,000 in settlement. Ms. Hewitt’s original attorney recommended that the settlement offer be accepted. Ms. Hewitt (then a minor) and her mother (her legal guardian) then consulted with Mr. Goldstein, who urged rejection of the settlement offer. Following a two-week trial, Mr. Goldstein obtained a jury verdict of $450,000.
Taylor v. Beckett Trucking: Herniated Disc – Trial - $350,000 Verdict
Roger Taylor was stopped at a traffic signal, seated in his vehicle, when its left rear corner was struck by the defendant’s large truck at a speed of approximately 5 mph. Within a few weeks of the incident, he underwent surgery on his cervical spine. The defendant argued that the disc injury was pre-existing, and that it could not have occurred in such a low-impact collision. At trial, Mr. Goldstein argued that because of the extraordinary mass of the defendant’s truck, there were sufficient forces involved to have caused the disc to herniate. Following a two-week trial, Mr. Goldstein obtained a jury verdict of $350,000.
Lee v. Par Electric: Severe Electric Shock – Disc Herniation – Trial - $4.5 million Verdict
Chris Lee, a 44-year-old, self-employed electrician, was injured when he received a severe electric shock as he touched a ‘meter pedestal’ that had been inadvertently electrified by the defendant’s employees. The electric shock caused severe contractions of the muscles in his neck and upper back, resulting in an acute disc herniation in his cervical spine. He underwent a multi-level fusion of his cervical vertebrae and has residual pain from direct electrical injury to nerve fibers in his right shoulder and arm.
Mr. Goldstein had attended two separate mediations in an effort to settle the case with the electrical contractor, with no success. At trial, the defendant argued that Mr. Lee was 50 percent at fault, and that his injuries were essentially “pre-existing.” Mr. Goldstein obtained a jury verdict in the amount of $4.5 million. After adjustments to the verdict (for 10 percent comparative fault by Mr. Lee; and ‘credit’ for the pre-trial settlement with the general contractor in the amount of $1 million), the ’net verdict’ against Par Electric was in the amount of $3.1 million.
White v. Los Arcos Equipment: Jaw Fracture/Multiple Tooth Fractures – Confidential Settlement
Dennis White suffered a severe fracture of his jaw and the fracture/loss of seven teeth when an industrial grindstone literally exploded in his face. Pre-trial investigation revealed that the electrical outlet in the ‘man lift’ in which Mr. White had been working had been mis-wired. As a result, the voltage was twice as high as it should have been which caused the electric-powered grindstone to “over-rev” and break apart. With the benefit of this information, Mr. Goldstein was able to obtain a confidential settlement.
John Doe v. Dr. Roe: Detached Retina/Blindness – Confidential Settlement
Mr. Doe, a 63-year-old Nuclear Physicist, was increasingly bothered by ‘floaters’ in one of his eyes - small specks moving in his field of vision, caused by tiny clumps of cells in the fluid that fills the eye. At the recommendation of his Ophthalmologist, Dr. Roe, he underwent a fairly radical procedure - a vitrectomy - which involved removing and replacing all of the fluid in the affected eye. Shortly after the vitrectomy, Mr. Doe suffered a retinal detachment, which necessitated a surgical repair and a lengthy post-operative recovery. He ultimately suffered multiple detachments following the vitrectomy - a procedure that was arguably unwarranted in the first place. Mr. Doe essentially lost all functional vision in the affected eye. Dr. Roe maintained that Mr. Doe had extremely poor vision even before the surgery - as allegedly documented in his record of Mr. Doe’s pre-operative vision. Suspicious of an ‘altered medical record’ Mr. Goldstein had the suspect medical record entry analyzed by a forensic chemist whose ‘chromatographic analysis’ confirmed that the suspect record had, in fact, been altered after the date of Mr. Roe’s complication. With the benefit of this evidence, the case was settled for a confidential amount.
Jane Doe v. Dr. Roe and General Electric: Angiogram – Death – Confidential Settlement
Ms. Doe, age 67, underwent a diagnostic angiogram for the purpose of assessing the extent of narrowing in two of her coronary arteries. In the course of the procedure, Dr. Roe caused a “dissection” or tear in one of the arteries. As he began to attempt a repair of the dissection, the imaging equipment in the laboratory - manufactured by General Electric - failed. The other catheter laboratory was then in use and unavailable for Dr. Roe’s use, resulting in a delay in treatment of approximately 90 minutes. Mr. Goldstein argued that once it became apparent that there was no alternate Catheter Lab available, Ms. Doe should have been sent immediately to the Operating Room for emergency intervention. Mr. Goldstein also discovered that the G.E. imaging equipment had a lengthy history of problems before Ms. Doe’s procedure and that G.E. unreasonably failed to troubleshoot and correct the problem until after Ms. Doe’s death. The case, filed on behalf of Ms. Doe’s daughter, was settled for a confidential amount.
Other Catastrophic Injuries
Nickerson v. Roso: Assault – Severe Brain Injury – Trial - $2.1 million Verdict
Doug Nickerson, age 55 at the time, suffered a severe brain injury when he was hit over the head with a skateboard as he turned his back to two 18-year old boys, following a confrontation in his driveway. The injury required three weeks of acute hospitalization, followed by one year of rehabilitation. Mr. Nickerson, a high school teacher, was able to return to the classroom 11 months after the assault.
Before trial, Mr. Goldstein was able to obtain a $225,000 settlement on behalf of one of the boys, but the insurer for the second boy refused to offer more than $75,000 in settlement. Given the inadequacy of this offer, Mr. Goldstein spent two weeks in trial and obtained a jury verdict of $2.1 million. The insurance company for the second boy ultimately paid $770,000 in settlement, for a total recovery of $990,000.
Japanese Prisoner of War (“JPOW”) LITIGATION
Of all the cases in which Mr. Goldstein has been involved over the course of his career, the “JPOW” case is at the top of the list with respect to the righteousness of a cause. In this litigation, Mr. Goldstein had the honor and privilege of representing thousands of former U.S. soldiers from World War II, who had been captured and taken as “prisoners of war” by the Japanese military. Approximately 20,000 of these soldiers had been forced to work as slave laborers, under brutal conditions, for various Japanese companies, for the duration of the War.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. troops on the Bataan ( Philippines) Peninsula, found themselves cut off from, and abandoned by the U.S. military, with dwindling food supplies and ammunition. Following their inevitable surrender, they were subjected to the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Those that survived were then loaded like cattle into the holds of the Japanese “Hell Ships” and transported to Japan where they were forced to work as slave laborers in mines and factories. During their internment at the various prison/work camps, they were subjected to physical abuse, long work hours, and inclement weather, while being deprived of adequate food rations and medical care. Approximately one-third of the Japanese POWs died during their captivity. Those that survived weighed around 100 pounds at the time of their liberation at the end of the war.
In the late 1990's, Mr. Goldstein was contacted by Dr. Lester Tenney, a former JPOW who had spent three long years working as a slave laborer for the Mitsui Mine Company. Having heard the media reports of the billions of dollars that were to be paid to the WWII slave laborers of the German industrial entities, Mr. Tenney wondered about the feasibility of such claims against the Japanese entities - such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Nippon Steel - that had used soldier-slaves. Appreciating the need for substantial additional resources - both financial and human - Mr. Goldstein contacted his friends at the San Diego firm of Casey, Gerry about the prospect of taking on this challenging litigation.
Ultimately, an extraordinary litigation team was assembled to prosecute these claims against those now-giant Japanese corporations who had utilized thousands of these slave laborers under savage conditions and without compensation. In California, the team included David Casey, Jim Parkinson, Bonnie Kane, Venus Soltan, Wendy Behan, and Michael Goldstein. The team also included two high-powered Washington D.C. law firms - Patton, Boggs and Greenberg, Traurig - as well as the renowned New Orleans firm of Herman, Herman.
Beginning in 2000, multiple lawsuits were filed - individual and class action - in both State and Federal Court. At issue in the litigation was the reasonable value of the services provided by these soldier/slaves - i.e. lost wages that, including accrued interest, were calculated at more than $4 billion. The cases were in litigation for approximately three years in total. Ultimately, the defendants filed motions seeking to have the Plaintiffs’ cases dismissed. The essence of their argument was that the San Francisco Peace Treaty - signed in 1951 - had effectively resulted in a waiver of the claims of the Plaintiffs. In their Opposition briefs, the Plaintiffs’ legal team submitted affidavits and declarations from legal experts and scholars on the subjects of Treaties and International Law - explaining why the defendants’ arguments were flawed and inapplicable. Much to the surprise and dismay of the Plaintiffs, the U.S. Department of Justice submitted briefs to the Court - supporting the arguments and positions of the Japanese defendant entities. The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the defendants - the Plaintiffs filed an appeal. The State Court ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs - the defendants appealed.
In 2001, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives each introduced legislation entitled “Justice for United States Prisoner of War Act of 2001" which sought to preclude the federal courts from construing the Treaty as constituting a waiver of the Plaintiffs’ claims. The House bill had over 200 bipartisan co-sponsors. Hearings were held before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which several of the Plaintiffs provided dramatic testimony of their experiences during their captivity. At every step of the way, the Plaintiffs were opposed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately, the cases were all dismissed - victims of the opposition from their own government - the same government that had abandoned them 60 years earlier, during the War.
The compelling story of these brave American heroes, as well as their long, but unsuccessful struggle for justice, is the subject of a new book - "Soldier Slaves: Abandoned by the White House, Courts and Congress" - by James Parkinson and Lee Benson. Jim Parkinson's extraordinary efforts as co-counsel are detailed in the book and provide a fascinating insight into the political dynamics of the litigation - the dynamics upon which the case initially rose, and ultimately, upon which it fell.
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