Representative Settlements and Judgments
I make effort in the cases I litigate to determine if a reasonable settlement can be achieved. That is because there is always a risk of complete loss in litigation, particularly jury trials. The opposing party, though, is not always willing to reasonably settle the case. That is when it becomes necessary to take the case to trial. Below I have detailed some of the settlements and judgments I have achieved since 2001. In all of these cases, I was either the sole counsel for the prevailing party, or if working with a team, I was the lead trial counsel. Unfortunately, electronic record keeping was not much in vogue in the early years of this time period. It was not until about mid-2005 that the federal court system transitioned to electronic filing. Scanning documents and maintaining pdf copies of documents became the norm thereafter. So, for several of the earlier results I do not have the best documents. During the time period I cover below there were several other personal injury settlements in the range of $500,000 to $3M, but those settlements were confidential, and their details cannot be disclosed.
- 2001- $768,750.00 jury verdict/judgment. Grynberg v. Shaffer, 94-cv-5396, Denver District Court. This was an oil and gas royalty dispute tried before a Denver District Court jury resulting in an award of compensatory and punitive damages totaling $768,750.00. The Defendants appealed the result and the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the jury’s award.
- 2002- $1.85M personal injury/motor vehicle accident settlement. This case involved a severe head injury suffered in a motor vehicle collision.
- 2003- $6M False Claims Act settlement. United States ex rel. Grynberg v. The BOC Group, Inc., 97-D-2422 (D. Colo.). This was an intervened False Claims Act case involving allegations of federal oil and gas royalty underpayment. One aspect of the case, which involved the understatement of royalty pricing or value, was settled for $6M. A trial to the court was required to establish the relator’s entitlement to a share of the recovery. That trial was successful and the relator was paid approximately $1.26M of the $6M settlement. There was a second aspect of the case involving claims of understatement of royalty volume that was tried to a federal jury and was not successful.
- 2003- $285,000 False Claims Act settlement. United States ex rel. Grynberg v. Amerigas, Inc., 98-D-2495 (D. Colo.). This was a companion case to BOC that was settled for $285,000.00.
- 2003- $450,000 personal injury/premises liability settlement. This case involved a severe head injury sustained as a result of a dangerous condition present in a home. The client was a tiling contractor who went to measure and inspect a bathtub enclosure located on the second floor of a home. When the client stepped into the bathtub enclosure, the floor collapsed and he fell to the first floor of the home.
- 2007- $7,555,886.28 False Claims Act jury verdict. United States ex rel. Bobby Maxwell v. Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corporation, 04-cv-01224 (D. Colo.). In June of 2004, I had the pleasure of filing a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of Bobby Maxwell. Bobby was perhaps the best auditor at the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS). The MMS collected royalties upon federal lands from the oil and gas industry. Bobby determined that Kerr McGee Oil & Gas Corporation owed the government approximately $7.5M in unpaid royalties. However, when Bobby attempted to issue orders for Kerr McGee to pay this amount he was instructed by the director of the agency to leave Kerr McGee alone. After doing his best to resolve this issue within the MMS, and being shot down, Bobby hired our legal team to pursue a False Claims Act case against Kerr McGee. Over the course of the next three years the case was hard fought. It proved necessary to take the case to trial. After deliberating less than four hours, the twelve person federal jury agreed with Mr. Maxwell and awarded $7,555,886.28, the precise amount Bobby had testified that Kerr McGee owed. Mr. Maxwell received recognition for his efforts from the United States’ Congress. To view the congressional record, click here. Eventually judgment was entered on this jury verdict in the amount of $22,931,658.78. To view this judgment, click here.
- 2008- $90,000.00 trial court verdict/judgment. Liselli v. Stonig, 07-cv-6473, Jefferson County District Court. This was an unjust enrichment case evolving out of a divorce proceeding. Essentially the ex-husband had been duped into pouring his savings into a piece of real estate that had not been held in his name. The divorce proceeding had not provided him relief. I filed this case and tried it to the court. The court awarded the ex-husband $90,000.00.
- 2011- $26M False Claims Act settlement. United States ex rel. Bobby Maxwell v. Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corporation, 04-cv-01224 (D. Colo.). The $22,931,658.78 judgment in the Maxwell case eventually led to a settlement in the amount of $26M. To read the amended complaint, click here.
- 2012- $325,000.00 personal injury settlement. Jones v. Estate of Brady, 10-cv-662 (D. Colo.). This case involved a head-on collision on the highway between Salida and Canon City. The responsible party did not have sufficient insurance coverage, so a claim was asserted against his parents under Colorado’s Family Car Doctrine. We started this jury trial in federal court. On the morning of the second day of trial the defendants expressed an interest in settling the case and we resolved it.
- 2014- $4.5M False Claims Act settlement. United States ex rel. Jimenez v. Otter Products LLC, 11-cv-02937 (D. Colo.). This case involved claims that the cell phone protective case giant OtterBox had fraudulently understated its custom duties. Most of OtterBox’s products were manufactured in China. Upon importation, the claim was that OtterBox systematically failed to account for the full value of the product. The case was settled for $4.5M. To view the OtterBox complaint, click here.
- 2016- $18M False Claims Act settlement. United States ex rel. Fowler v. Evercare Hospice, Inc., 11-cv-00642 (D. Colo.) This case involved claims that the United HealthCare subsidiary Evercare Hospice had defrauded Medicare by submitting claims for hospice care with respect to patients who did not qualify for hospice care. To qualify for Medicare hospice benefits a given patient has to be certified to have a probability of dying within six months. The evidence was that Evercare trolled nursing homes and enrolled into hospice elderly individuals who had no imminent risk of death. The case was settled for $18M. Post settlement, it proved necessary to have the court dismiss the claims of a competing relator and to have the court determine the proper amount of our clients’ share of the recovery.
- 2018- Resolution of ONRR oil and gas penalty claim of $1,732,563.00 for $300,000.00. An oil and gas client of mine engaged in sloppy federal royalty reporting. Its royalty reports were chronically late. Eventually the current federal agency in charge of royalty reports, ONRR, hit the client with notice of a potential penalty in the amount of $1,732,563.00. Through patience, good communication and cooperation, including demonstrating that the client had amended its process for paying federal royalties, this penalty was reduced to $300,000.00. I have provided this example to illustrate the point that sometimes it is best to work with the opposing side and settle a claim. Here, the client’s legal fees would have exceeded $300,000.00 with no guarantee of avoiding a substantial penalty.