Duncan Firm has been involved in a number of hard fought and precedent setting cases during Phillip Duncan’s 45 year career. One such recent case tried to a judge in the complex business litigation division of a Florida trial court finally processed to judgment. Duncan Firm lawyers Phillip Duncan and his son-in-law James Bartolomei represented of group of plaintiff owner/operators from Arkansas (a doctor and three businessmen) and their Florida-based, minimally invasive spine surgery business. This was a business torts case spanning more than 14-years which resulted in a trial court judgment of $369M. First filed in Arkansas in 2005, then refiled in Florida for jurisdictional purposes using local Tampa counsel, Andrews Law Group, Duncan Firm sought significant relief related to the theft (disgorgement of profits) and/or destruction of plaintiffs’ unique surgery business. Boies Schiller and ultimately Pillsbury Shaw Pittman were associated law firms. Defendants formed a conspiracy, lead by a Texas-based private equity firm, which was conducting due diligence into plaintiffs’ business for an investment or a loan to grow the business. Defendants decided that if they could not control the business, they would either steal it or interfere with it, and eventually destroy it. Aided by two doctor owners and directors of plaintiffs’ business, Defendants’ wrongful takeover attempt can be summed up by simply referring to Defendants’ own words: “We’re going to take your doctors and take your business.” And that’s exactly what they did, with Defendants’ business, Lase Spine Institute (LSI), going on to generate billions of dollars in revenue of ill-gotten gains.
The trial finally resulted in a trial court verdict in favor of the Arkansas plaintiffs and their business. After two successful appeals in Florida on the amount of damages awarded, on July 3, 2019 the trial court entered a final judgment of $369M plus interest for disgorgement of defendants’ profits caused by tortious interference, conspiracy, fraud, defamation, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of Florida’s unfair and deceptive trade practice act, and punitive damages. For more details on this precedent setting case for business litigation, click here.
When Cody Metheny underwent brain surgery, the physician mistakenly operated on the wrong side of his brain. Through the investigation and efforts of Duncan, fifteen months later, the parents learned tissue had been removed from the wrong side of their child’s brain. The Methenys filed a direct-action suit against the Insurance, alleging medical negligence on the part of a Children’s Hospital. Suit was filed against the hospital's liability-insurance carrier. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Methenys.
Additionally, a separate alter-ego theory against the State of Arkansas resulted in a two-million-dollar award for coverup and fraud. This verdict was affirmed by the State Supreme Court on appeal.
$20 Million Default Judgment was awarded in a dram shop case for illegal sale of alcohol to minors at a teenage nightclub. Accident on the state line between TN and MS.
One half of the vehicle landed in MS and the other half in TN. The case involved complex choice of law issues involving dram shop laws of two states.
Dump truck collided with client’s vehicle in construction zone and settled. The rest of the case went to trial where a jury found a non-delegable duty on the general contractor for the job site after the trucking companies settled close to trial.
Jury Verdict: $17,000,000.
The client was going about his normal duties operating a large, heavy-duty wrecker truck removing wreckage at a railroad crossing when he received a brain injury during an accident where he was permanently and severely injured. Duncan fought long and hard for his client, and after a two-week trial Johnny was awarded $8,000,000 by the jury.
This case was tried in Federal Court to a unanimous verdict.
Wrongful Death. Collision with two big trucks and no real offers for settlement forcing a full jury trial with separate liability theories against the logging trucking company and the driver. The defendant trucking company was found liable for their own separate negligence on the verdict form. The jury allocated fault for the trucking company for hours of service hour violations, log violations and its own direct negligence.
Jury Verdict: $7,000,000 in Federal Court.
Clients Injury occurred while traveling in a 1994 Ford Explorer when their vehicle was struck by a driver who had run a stop sign. The Explorer rolled over twice, fatally injuring the driver. A complaint was filed against Ford Motor Company for negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, and breach of warranties.
The jury returned a verdict finding that Ford and the driver, in equal measure, had been the proximate cause of the death. The jury awarded $4,652,125 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. This verdict was affirmed on appeal by the State Supreme Court.
An 18-wheeler was speeding ran into the rear of client’s vehicle. That vehicle then collided into two other vehicles, resulting in a multiple-vehicle crash with multiple injuries, and multiple cases. Mr. Shelton was one of those injured victims and one of those cases.
Duncan was able to settle Mr. Shelton’s case without going to trial.
Client injured on the job. A big insurance company wasn’t willing to do what was right by Wayne, so Duncan took his case to a jury trial and won. This case was defended under a theory of no liability because the client sat down on an open hole that was covered by Styrofoam and blackboard and cinder block and workers said that they knew not to sit down on the covered hole.
$4M Jury Verdict. This case was tried in Federal Court to a unanimous verdict.
A medical helicopter conducting a patient air lift fell 90 feet after take-off, due to mechanical defects and mechanical failure. The pilot was able to negotiate a successful crash landing with no fatalities, but there were serious injuries. Duncan took the case to trial and a jury awarded a verdict against the company that had performed maintenance overhaul on the helicopter.
$2.9M Jury Verdict
Federal Court case involving an insurance company who refused to give the Plaintiff money that was held in a buildup fund. The case involved allegations of denial in bad faith. This case involved an 18 thousand dollar claim by a widow.
A jury awarded $2.35 million: a $750k compensatory award and $1.6 million in punitive damages.
Bill Sanders, an employee of Arkansas Missouri Power Company, received severe burns over a large part of his body. This was a tort case filed as a breach of oral contract against his employer and was initially dismissed by the trial court because the plaintiff was suing his employer. The State Supreme Court overturned the trial court and the case proceeded to trial after the original trial judge recused. Plaintiff overcame the exclusive remedy doctrine by proving an oral contract- promise for a promise. The injury resulted in the loss of one leg, and Bill became restricted to a wheelchair (While in the hospital, Bill’s employer promised to create a new job with the same salary he had been earning; after 18 months the employer went back on its promise to Bill and stopped paying his promised salary. Bill then came to Duncan for help who after studying various laws came up with a solution). Duncan filed suit under a contract theory and took Arkansas Missouri Power company to trial.
On a contract theory, the jury awarded Bill the exact amount requested, $1,099,043.77.
Big truck wreck, back injury where plaintiff a marine James vehicle was rear ended with an alleged small impact as a defense. No real money was offered and a trial ensued in a rural small town where the largest truck verdict was obtained.
Jury Verdict: $800,000.
James Leonard came to Duncan Firm in desperate need of help. While teaching a class, he tripped and fell on a newly installed gym floor. What was initially diagnosed as a minor ankle sprain worsened into a life changing painful injury: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). The company that installed the flooring denied responsibility for Mr. Leonard’s injuries, but the lawyers at Duncan Firm filed suit and vigorously pursued this complex case. The flooring company continued to steadfastly deny responsibility and refused to fairly compensate Mr. Leonard for his losses. After years of litigation, with the case set for trial, Duncan Firm was able to obtain a $700,000 judgment against the flooring company.
At the time of this case, it was the largest per-capita settlement for property damage in the history of GM. A class action suit was filed on behalf of over 500 class members in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee for consumer fraud. Tornado-damaged vehicles had been shipped to dealers as new, and consumers purchased the vehicles with the belief that they were new. Allegations involved fraud, misrepresentation and deceit. (308 depositions were taken in this case).
The court ordered GM to pay attorney’s fees and costs and rather than simply receiving coupons GM paid thousands of dollars to almost all claimants.
This is an unusual case that involved catastrophic injuries when a sister and brother were injured wile traveling to a funeral when a car hauler was virtually stopped in the interstate and they ran into the rear of the stopped 18-wheeler. The accident reconstruction of the trucking company attempted to show speeding of plaintiff caused the wreck. However, plaintiffs’ experts effectively countered using the event data recorder and logistics data from the 18-wheeler to obtain a settlement that was placed in a trust for these young people to protect them for the rest of their lives.
Federal Court case involving an big truck/car hauler slowly moving on interstate partially occupying both lanes.
Big truck wreck. White River Bridge that was a complicated case involving modern electronic warning systems settlement with the trucking company and settlement on the eve of trial with the construction company.
Wrongful death. Dump truck rolled over on top of client’s vehicle.
Federal Court case involving big truck accident settled during heated litigation with heavily contested liability against a New York Trucking Company that was hard to serve and required hiring a translator to take the driver’s deposition. This case settled resulting in a trust for the client that along with social security befits needed to take care of her for the remainder of her life.
Involving a brain injury of a young college student from TN who graduated from college and had to study a lot harder to make it out of college and lost her academic scholarship because if the wreck. The brain injury was hotly contested because plaintiff graduated from college.
Federal Court case involving big truck accident in construction zone.