“…but was able to complete the 280-day world cruise.” Charges fly following a $21 million October jury verdict over a cruise mishap, as Holland America says a former personal assistant to the winning plaintiff stepped forward to tell a colorful tale of evidence concealment, email deletion, and witness tampering. [Seattle Times]
At first lawyer J. Kendall Few, trying a case against Kia Motors alleging seat belt failure, denied tampering with the seat belt in an exhibit car so as to produce an effect prejudicial to the automaker’s case. “Later he admitted he had moved the seat belt, but said he thought he had returned it to its original position. ‘I’m 70 years old, and I’d been through a fairly hard day. I went down there, and I don’t remember everything as good as I did when I was 25 or 30,’ Few said.” A federal judge said it was a “close call” but declined to levy sanctions, finding “there was no conclusive evidence that Few had acted in bad faith or committed intentional misconduct”. [ABA Journal]
The Texas case we covered on May 23 and Jun. 26, 2000 and Mar. 17 of this year has now eventuated in a suit by DaimlerChrysler against the Kugle Law Firm. A trial court dismissed the Kugle firm’s $2 billion suit against Chrysler and imposed sanctions of $865,000 against three of the firm’s lawyers after finding that the steering decoupler of the sued-over Dodge Neon had been altered to simulate mechanical failure and that Mexican policemen had been asked to change their accounts of the accident giving rise to the suit. An appeals court called the firm’s conduct ‘an egregious example of the worst kind of abuse of the judicial system.'” “The senior lawyer at the firm, Robert A. Kugle, has been suspended from the Texas bar and has moved to Mexico. He could not be located for comment.” (Adam Liptak, “Law Firm Is Sued Over Conduct in Liability Case”, New York Times, Jul. 10; AP/Miami Herald; San Antonio Express-News). More: David Giacalone at EthicalEsq.? weighs in.