The Trial Lawyer Summer 2018 - Page 16

RAISINGTHEBAR Plaintiff ’s counsel contended that the hotel’s staff provided Padilla with the key to the plaintiff ’s boyfriend’s hotel room without obtaining proper identification. The plaintiff ’s liability expert opined that Scharon’s provision of the room key to Padilla was a violation of the standard of care and of hotel policy. Counsel for Scharon and MRSS Hospitality claimed that Padilla’s criminal conduct was not foreseeable and that the plaintiff and her boyfriend did not engage the secondary locks available to them in the room. The plaintiff was raped, but she did not seek medical treatment on the night of the incident. She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and subsequently underwent psychiatric treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy. The plaintiff claimed that she will suffer the effects of the incident for the rest of her life and that she can no longer feel comfortable sleeping at or visiting hotels. She also claimed she became fearful and introverted as a result of the incident. The plaintiff ’s father testified that his daughter’s personality had entirely changed since the incident. The plaintiff ’s psychiatric expert opined that the plaintiff suffers from PTSD and that she will suffer PTSD and emotional distress for the rest of her life, as she was “triggered” by men who looked like Padilla, by hotels, and by sleeping. There were no special damages requested at trial. The defense’s psychiatric expert concurred that the plaintiff suffers from PTSD, but opined that the plaintiff should recover with a full course of cognitive behavioral therapy. Defense counsel contended that the plaintiff did not comply with the psychiatrist’s recommendations regarding medication and that she did not complete therapy. Counsel further argued that the plaintiff ’s alleged damages were excessive. The jury apportioned 40 percent liability to Padilla, and 60 percent liability to Scharon and her employer, MRSS Hospitality, via vicarious liability. It also determined that the plaintiff ’s 14 x The Trial Lawyer damages totaled $3.5 million. After apportionment, a judgment was entered against to Scharon/MRSS Hospitality in the amount of $2.1 million. The trial lasted ten days, and it took the five man, seven woman jury two days to reach a unanimous verdict. A nationwide class action lawsuit has been filed against off-road vehicle manufacturer and distributors Polaris Industries, Inc. and Polaris Sales Inc. The lawsuit alleges Polaris has sold multiple models in its Ranger and RZR lines that suffer from a design defect that creates a significant and unreasonable risk of the vehicles overheating and catching fire. This defect has resulted in more than 250 fires, more than 30 severe injuries and at least three deaths. The Plaintiffs are represented by W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, III, who is head of the Consumer Fraud Section at Beasley Allen Law Firm, and National Trial Lawyers member Adam Levitt, a partner of DiCello Levitt and Casey. “Since at least 2011, Polaris has prioritized performance, style and cost savings over safety and in so doing produced over 400,000 recreational off- road vehicles (ROVs) that can overheat and catch fire,” Miles said. “Polaris has yet to offer owners an effective fix, so we filed to help bring about that change. “ Levitt adds, “Polaris has continued selling Ranger and RZR off-road vehicles with ProStar engines, despite knowing that they suffer from an acute risk of catching fire. Our lawsuit hopes to force Polaris to seriously confront this issue and to start putting its customers’ safety above corporate profits.” Class vehicles include the 2011-2014 RZR XP 900 series, 2012-2018 RZR 570 series, 2014-2018 RZR XP 1000 series, 2015-2018 RZR 900 and S 900 series, 2016-2018 RZR XP Turbo series, 2016-2018 General 1000 series, 2014- 2018 Ranger XP 900 series, 2017-2018 Ranger XP 1000, 2014-2018 Ranger Crew XP 900, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 series, 2014-2018 Ranger 570 Crew series, and 2017-2018 Ranger 500. According to the complaint, the class vehicles contain a design defect in which the vehicles’ high-powered “ProStar” engine is located directly behind the occupant compartment, without proper ventilation and heat shielding. Because it is located within inches of combustible plastic body panels and close to vehicle occupants, it poses a high risk of fire and injury to passengers. The complaint is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.