Deadline nearing for 2010’s ‘Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements’

On Jan. 10, 2011, Michigan Lawyers Weekly will publish its “2010 Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements” edition, which compiles verdicts, settlements and class actions of $1 million or more in 2010.

If you or your firm prevailed in $1 million-plus cases in 2010 and did not previously submit reports to Lawyers Weekly, or did but have not seen the results published, now is the time to act.

In order to be considered for “2010 Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements,” your $1 million-plus case must have taken place in 2010 in a Michigan court. Proof of the verdict or settlement is required, as well as a thorough case description, including arguments for both sides. Case confidentiality may be requested.

The deadline for submissions is noon Thursday, Dec. 23.

You may submit your case at www.milawyersweekly.com; or by requesting via e-mail to douglas.levy@mi.lawyersweekly.com a MicrosoftWord-formatted document.

For information on submitting a Verdicts & Settlements report, or to inquire on the status of a previously submitted report, call or send an e-mail to Lawyers Weekly associate editor Douglas Levy at (248) 865-3107 or douglas.levy@mi.lawyersweekly.com.

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BCBSM motion denied in $4.5 million breach-of-contract suit

In our Aug. 16, 2010, edition, we reported about a $4.5 million verdict rendered against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in a breach-of-contract and tortious interference lawsuit (“Their (Blue) Cross to bear”).

That stemmed from Pontiac-based TheraMatrix Services, Inc. contending BCBSM breached its agreement with the physical-therapy business over a program at Ford Motor Co. that would have saved the auto company millions of dollars in health care costs, and also interfered with TheraMatrix’s business relationship with Chrysler Motor Co. over a similar program.

Now, in a recent development, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Avadenka on Oct. 5 rejected BCBSM’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial.

BCBSM counsel Laurine S. Parmely said in August that “we don’t see this as more than a simple, contractual business dispute between two parties.”

But Rodger D. Young, counsel for TheraMatrix, indicated the possibility of filing another suit to seek damages for money lost during TheraMatrix’s 18-month hiatus from Blue Cross’ provider network – when Blue Cross terminated TheraMatrix as a participating provider for its health plans in Michigan.

As well, he added, there could be counts of anti-trust and anti-competitiveness asserted against Blue Cross, as officials from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice monitored the July 2010 trial.

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Largest verdict of 2009 settles for $500M, leads to new business deal

On the eve of the second of three major trials, one of the largest business lawsuits in Michigan history has settled for $500 million.

Livonia-based Valassis Communications, Inc. reached an agreement to settle its outstanding lawsuits against News America Marketing (NAM), a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan Judge Arthur Tarnow OK’d the agreement, which would have prevented a Feb. 2 trial in asserting violations of the Sherman Act. If Valassis had prevailed in this suit — as it did in a $300 million July 23, 2009, trial asserting unfair competition and tortious interference — the damages would have been trebled.

Besides paying Valassis $500 million, NAM also will enter into a 10-year shared mail distribution agreement with Valassis Direct Mail, a Valassis subsidiary. In addition, the judge will issue a permanent injunction related to certain business practices at issue in the lawsuits, and Valassis also will drop a pending state court case in California.

“It has become evident to our legal advisors from pre-trial proceedings over the past couple of weeks that significant risks were developing in presenting this case to a jury,” said News Corp. Deputy Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey in a statement. “That … led us to believe it was in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders to agree to a settlement.”

Valassis asserted that, over a six-year period, NAM tried to monopolize the free-standing coupon insert (FSI) market. Valassis contended that, by 2006, NAM had more than 60 percent of the FSI market, and did so by illegally bundling deals on its FSIs with its other consumer marketing division, in-store and point-of-purchase media.

Valassis was represented by Gregory L. Curtner and A. Michael Palizzi of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C., and David Mendelson of Birmingham-based Law Offices of David Mendelson.

The $300 million verdict was the highest 2009 verdict reported in Michigan Lawyers Weekly. By comparison, the top verdict in 2008 was $9.1 million — a difference of 97 percent.

He sues, he scores!

The Associated Press is reporting that former Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov has won his lawsuit against a man he says swindled him out $43 million during the past 11 years.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald ruled Friday that Fedorov was entitled to the $60 million Joseph Zada of Grosse Pointe Shores had promised to repay him by April 20.