Settlements & Verdicts
A Record of Success: Past Verdicts and Settlements
Over the last thirty years, Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng, P.C. has consistently obtained outstanding results for its clients. The following summaries describe just a few of our success stories and illustrate the exceptional service and representation you can expect from our firm.
Please understand that results obtained depend on the facts of each case and that Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng, P.C., cannot guarantee similar verdicts in all cases. The dollar amount shown below are net recoveries for our clients after attorney fees and expenses. Total verdicts and settlements are higher.
Product Liability Cases
Ford Rollover in Saudi Arabia – $8,700,000 Verdict
In April 1999, our client, an Army Major, received disabling injuries when the roof of a Crown Victoria in which he was a passenger was crushed in on him during a rollover in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Our client suffered a neck injury that led to tetraplegia; our client can no longer feel anything from the chest down. Despite the difficulties of investigating an accident in the Middle East after 9/11, our firm took the case against Ford Motor Company. We were able to show that a nine dollar repair that involved adding steel to the roof would have prevented our client’s injuries. In December 2004, a San Antonio federal jury found that Ford’s Crown Victoria had a design defect and returned a verdict of $8.7 million for our client and his family. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict on appeal, we settled the case for a confidential amount.
Child Pinned by Automatic Gate – Lifetime Benefits Obtained
Our firm represented a nine-year-old boy who was asphyxiated and nearly killed when he was pinned between an automatic gate and fence at his apartment complex. Despite warnings from the manufacturer that the gate system could injure children when opening, the gate was installed without adequate safety measures. We assisted the boy’s mother in bringing a products liability claim against the Pennsylvania gate opener manufacturer, a premises liability claim against the Colorado apartment complex owner, and negligence claims against the Austin gate installer. In separate, confidential settlements before trial, the boy and his mother received substantial lifetime benefits to compensate them for the boy’s permanent injuries.
Children Burned as a Result of Defective Pickup Design – Lifetime Benefits Obtained
Two boys, 7 and 9 years old, were brutally burned when the flick of a cigarette lighter ignited gas that had leaked into the passenger cab of a 1966 Chevrolet pickup. The boys were sitting in the pickup’s passenger compartment waiting for one of their fathers to pump gas. Because General Motors decided to put the fuel tank and its filler neck (with a rubber filler hose) within the passenger compartment, the gas leak was highly dangerous and constituted a design defect. After heavily contested discovery and preparation for trial in federal court, the case settled shortly after we picked a jury. The confidential settlements provide funds for the numerous surgeries for burn scars that the boys will need as they grow and for their losses as they confront social, psychological, and work-related challenges.
Rezulin Product Liability Case – Confidential Settlement
In this case, Rezulin, available only by prescription, proved to be a dangerous drug that caused significant damage to a 55-year-old man’s liver, necessitating that he be placed on the liver transplant list. The defendant pharmaceutical company was aware that its medication caused severe damage to certain individuals, yet attempted to cover up the studies that showed its adverse effects. We were also able to ascertain that the drug company provided inadequate information to its sales representatives who, in turn, provided this inadequate information to the prescribing physicians. The pharmaceutical company did nothing to correct the information provided to doctors. We settled the case on behalf of our clients for a confidential amount just prior to the beginning of trial.
Rare Verdict for Defective Breast Implants – Confidential Settlement
We obtained one of the only verdicts against a manufacturer of silicone breast implants in Texas and the only such verdict that was upheld on appeal. Our client, who had received her implants after undergoing a mastectomy for breast cancer, developed autoimmune problems after one of her implants ruptured. After her implants were removed, her health problems improved. The Dallas County jury found that our client’s breast implants were defectively manufactured and that the company was negligent. The Dallas Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s verdict and the case settled for a confidential amount while an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court was pending. This verdict paved the way for us to negotiate settlements for the approximately 200 women we represented in similar cases.
Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical Malpractice Suit against the U.S. Government, Birth Injury – Family Receives $18,914,200
During her delivery at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, our client’s skull was crushed by an Army doctor’s improper use of forceps. This little girl suffered massive brain damage, and she now suffers from severe cerebral palsy. Our firm brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States Government. A federal judge awarded our clients one of the highest medical malpractice verdicts ever obtained in a case against the United States. The government appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reduced the amount of the judgment. The case was settled for the reduced amount plus post-judgment interest after the circuit court ruling, and our clients received almost $19 million.
Medical Malpractice Suit Against the U.S. Government, Birth Injury – Family Receives $15,752,732
Our firm represented a family whose son sustained severe injuries during his birth at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls, Texas. During pregnancy, the boy’s mother developed preeclampsia, a condition that results in reduced oxygen flow to the baby. The healthcare providers at the Air Force base failed to perform a cesarean section or to transfer the mother to a nearby location where a cesarean section could be performed. As a result of the poor decisions made during delivery, the child suffers from cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, visual impairment, microcephaly, and severe mental retardation. We brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States and ultimately secured one of the highest medical malpractice verdicts ever obtained in a case against the United States Government. The United States appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reduced the amount of the judgment. The case was settled for the reduced amount plus post-judgment interest after the Circuit court ruling; the family received over $15.7 million.
Wrongful Death of Egyptian General’s Wife – Confidential Settlement
Our firm represented the family of Egypt’s Vice Minister of Security in a lawsuit that arose from the death of the general’s wife of 29 years. Our client’s wife suffered from hepatitis C and needed a liver transplant. Doctors from a hospital in Oklahoma lured her to the United States with a promise of a liver transplant. When she arrived in Oklahoma, however, the doctors intentionally delayed her transplant for two months while they gave her a series of extremely high, experimental doses of a potent drug without her consent. It was later revealed that our client’s wife had, without her knowledge, been part of a human experiment involving this drug – an experiment that cost her life. Our firm filed suit on behalf of the general and his children and was able to settle the case for a confidential amount prior to trial.
Substandard Medical Care at a VA facility – $1,078,000 Received by Family
Our client was a 69-year-old veteran who sought medical care for bilateral pneumonia, malnutrition, and diabetes at the Veterans Administration facility in Temple, Texas. For a month, the healthcare providers at the VA provided him with substandard care, leaving him with a neurological illness, uncontrolled diabetes, infections, and multiple severe decubitus ulcers. Our client required over three years of hospitalization at the VA while his wife endured tremendous and needless suffering, and our client ultimately needed to be transferred to a nursing home. Our firm brought a medical malpractice claim against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act and was able to settle the case prior to trial.
Erb’s/Brachial Plexus Palsy Injury – $1,500,000+ Received by Family
In 1993, Darnall Army Community Hospital allowed two inexperienced medical residents, neither of whom was an obstetrician, to deliver our clients’ baby at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Our clients were never told that the residents delivering their baby were doctors in training or that they were not obstetricians. During the delivery, the residents pulled too hard on the baby’s head and caused permanent injuries to the baby’s left arm, neck, and shoulder. Our firm took the Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit on behalf of the family against the United States. After the trial, the court ruled in favor of our clients. The United States appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, but we settled the case while this appeal was pending. The family received over $1.5 million in the settlement.
Civil Rights Cases
Wrongful Conviction – $6,800,000 Recovery
In 1990, Richard Danzinger was convicted of a crime he did not commit. One year into his sentence, an inmate repeatedly kicked him in the head with steel-toed boots and left him brain damaged. After the real murderer confessed to authorities and DNA evidence conclusively established Mr. Danzinger’s innocence, our client’s conviction was invalidated. An investigation revealed that his conviction was the product of a coerced confession obtained by the Austin Police Department. After our firm filed a Section 1983 civil rights suit, we obtained one of the nation’s largest ever civil rights settlements against the City of Austin. We also obtained settlements from Travis County and from the individual who implicated Mr. Danzinger. Our firm recovered a total of $6.8 million for Richard Danzinger for his wrongful imprisonment and ensuing abuse in prison.
Sexual Harassment of Young Women by City Employee – $266,000 Recovery
Our firm represented three young girls who had been sexually harassed by a City of Austin employee at the Parks and Recreation Department. This employee had been hired by the city to supervise teenage girls who needed to perform court-ordered community service. Once he had these girls alone, he would try to coerce them into performing sexual favors for him in exchange for “writing off”? their required hours. We uncovered evidence that suggested he had been engaged in this activity for years and that the city had adopted numerous policies that enabled this predator to take advantage of its most vulnerable population. As a result of our clients’ courage in coming forward, the city agreed to settle the cases, and our clients recovered $266,000.
General Negligence Cases
College Hazing Victim – $1,100,000 Recovery and Change in Fraternity’s Pledging Procedures
Our client was a pledge with Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of Texas at Austin. During rush, he was hazed by the fraternity members and suffered a cracked skull and brain injuries as a result. Our firm brought a negligence lawsuit against the national and local chapters of the fraternity and the individuals involved, aiming to help our injured client and to prevent college fraternities from victimizing others. The case settled after jury selection and our clients received $1.1 million. As part of the settlement, the national fraternity agreed to make internal procedural changes to help prevent future hazing incidents. This case is one of several college hazing cases our firm has handled over the years.
Neglect and Abuse in Community Home – Confidential Settlement
Two severely mentally handicapped twin adult women were neglected and abused at their community home in Plano, Texas. When the twins’ mother complained, the owner threatened to discharge the twins in an attempt to avoid caring for them. After our firm filed suit, the court ordered the mother’s case be tried separately from the twins’ cases. After trial, the jury awarded the twins’ mother damages for pain and suffering, attorneys’ fees, and exemplary (or punitive) damages. Subsequently, the mother and her twins settled their cases for a confidential amount.
Sexual Assault at a Day Care Facility – Confidential Settlement
Two children, ages three and five, were enrolled at a day care facility in Austin, Texas that was owned by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc., one of the largest childcare corporations in the world. On his first day on the job, a new preschool teacher sexually molested both children. The new teacher had lied on his job application about his day care experience. However, Bright Horizons did not interview him or conduct a criminal background or professional reference check prior to hiring. The State of Texas investigated the molestations and found Bright Horizons in violation of numerous state minimum childcare standards, including failure to conduct criminal background checks on over a dozen employees. Our firm took on the suit against Bright Horizons, claiming negligent hiring, training, and supervision and misrepresentation and fraud. The case settled for a confidential amount after the first week of trial before we called any witnesses to testify about the children’s damages.
Motor Vehicle and Aviation Accident Cases
Record Verdict in Trucking Accident – Client Receives Over $5,500,000
In an auto accident on New Year’s Eve, a Mack truck delivering the mail ran a red light and broadsided the car driven by our client’s 19-year-old son, killing him instantly. The truck driver claimed brake failure. After reviewing over 400 reported accidents and detailed engineering analysis of the dual hydraulic brake system, we concluded that a defect in the brake valve – under the driver’s foot – did prevent any substantial braking. The Travis County jury agreed, returning a record verdict against Mack and the valve manufacturer. Our client received in excess of $5.5 million.
Dumpster Accident in California – $4,300,000+ Recovery
Moments before a jury was selected in Los Angeles County, a delivery truck owner settled this case, with our Austin clients recovering in excess of $4.3 million for injuries he received when he was crushed by a dumpster.
Tractor Trailer Accident Results in the Death of Two Women – $890,000 Recovery
In November 2001, two elderly sisters were involved in a minor accident on IH-35 near Georgetown, Texas and were awaiting roadside assistance. They were waiting in their Plymouth Neon, in full view of oncoming traffic, when a tractor trailer came barreling down the highway. The driver of the rig, who had been working all night, plowed into the tiny Neon, killing both women. Our firm assisted one woman’s children in their wrongful death and negligence action, with our clients recovering more than $890,000 for the loss of their relationships with their elderly mother.
Helicopter Crash in Borneo Leads to Suits in Texas, Arizona, and California – Confidential Settlements
The firm represented families from Jakarta, Indonesia, Borneo, Hong Kong, and Pecos, Texas after their husbands and fathers were killed in a Bell 212 helicopter crash on the way to an ARCO rig off of Tarakan, Indonesia. In separate confidential settlement agreements, five families residing 12,000 miles apart received ample compensation for suits handled by our firm in three states.
Turboprop Airplane Crash Kills Astronaut and All Others Aboard – Confidential Settlement
When an Embraer 120 turboprop aircraft crashed in Georgia in 1991, all of those on board lost their lives, including a NASA astronaut whose family retained our firm. We collaborated with lawyers for other passengers in suing the airline and the manufacturers of the aircraft, turboprop engine, and propellers. After extensive investigation in federal court in multi-district litigation, we found that the cause of the crash was a manufacturing defect in a part of the propeller mechanism that failed in flight. As a result, we were able to negotiate a confidential settlement that provided lifelong support for our client’s wife and children.
Head-On Collision – $1,400,000 Recovery
A head-on collision between an SUV and an eighteen-wheeler resulted in the death of a 43-year-old businessman. Our firm’s investigation into the accident revealed that the driver of the eighteen-wheeler was on drugs at the time of the accident. We were able to obtain a pretrial settlement from the truck driver’s employer, and the son, wife, and parents of our deceased client received over $1,400,000.
Propane and Gas Explosion Cases
Propane Gas Explosion Blows Roof off Hunter’s Cabin – Confidential Settlement
Over eighteen law firms became involved in a case involving a propane gas explosion in a hunting cabin in Sonora, Texas. Three men were seriously burned—two of them fatally—during this accident. Detailed “origin and analysis” work revealed that crushed PVC gas pipes were responsible for the explosion. Our firm was able to obtain confidential settlements on behalf of the men’s families.
Business Litigation Cases
Business Defamation of Swedish Company Working in Russia – Confidential Settlement
Our client, a Swedish business refitting drill ships in Russia, saw a sudden and drastic drop-off in business after a competitor made defamatory statements about the business’s quality of work. In a lawsuit in Texas that was governed in part by Russian law (as the USSR was breaking up), we ultimately recovered for the loss of business profits and damage to reputation that the business suffered as a result of the defamation.
Local Business Brings Suit Against National Corporation – Damages Obtained
Our firm successfully represented a family-owned Austin business in an antitrust suit against a national corporation that was using illegal and improper tactics to acquire business and increase its market share. The jury found that the national corporation had abused its market power and engaged in unfair practices. Accordingly, the jury awarded damages to the local business.
Contact Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng, P.C.
Although our firm can never guarantee a favorable verdict or settlement, we can promise to devote our energy and resources toward doing so to the fullest extent possible. If you have a case you would like to discuss with one of our lawyers, contact the personal injury lawyers at Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng, P.C., today.
Contact Us Today!
If you are in need of expert legal counsel, contact the personal injury lawyers at Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees & Cheng, P.C. We proudly serve Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and all of Texas.
The use of the Internet for communications with the firm will not establish an attorney-client relationship and messages containing confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent.
Brees & Cheng, P.C.
5113 Southwest Parkway, Ste 150
Austin, TX 78735
Toll Free: 866-566-4346