The St. Petersburg Times has a feature on $15-million Dillard’s escalator settlement for Kerriana Johnson and her family (Feb. 2); just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s a love letter to the plaintiffs’ attorney team of Justin Johnson and Michael Keane. It’s a little much, especially when the reporter marvels that Johnson and Keane were clever enough to videotape depositions, something that’s been all but standard practice for big cases for at least five years. Another all-too-typical strategy decision, credulously praised by the reporter who covered the trial: interrogate Dillard’s employees who had nothing to do with the accident, and then claim their ignorance about the facts shows the callousness of the corporation. (Jamie Thompson, “Legal ‘Odd Couple’ formidable in court”, Feb. 7; Jamie Thompson, “Witnesses recount store horrors”, St. Pete Times, Jan. 19). Interesting aspect we hadn’t previously commented on: the girl’s mother, Lori Medvitz, had been awarded only $20,000 by jurors; the settlement gives her (as opposed to her daughter) $3.8 million. None of the press coverage dares to suggest that there may have been a bit of a conflict of interest there. (Jamie Thompson, “Escalator suit ends in $15-million deal” St. Pete Times, Feb. 2).
The Los Angeles Times has more detail about the fraud case that led to a mistaken $1.8 billion verdict (Feb. 8); the defendant’s story is quite fishy. (Bob Pool, “Essay Flap’s Plot Takes Strange Turn”, Feb. 10).