CVN’s Top 10 Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdicts of 2021

Posted by David Siegel on Dec 14, 2021 2:37:00 PM

2021 Top 10 Plaintiff Header Graphic_Blog Update

After a pause of nearly a year or more, civil trials finally restarted in 2021 following the pandemic shutdown that scuttled court dockets and canceled trial dates nationwide. That means Courtroom View Network’s gavel-to-gavel trial video coverage resumed, too.

In courtrooms - or repurposed convention centers - transformed by plexiglass barriers, socially distanced juror seating, and mask wearing attorneys and court staff, CVN’s cameras provided a front row seat to see how the country's best plaintiff and defense trial attorneys navigated this strange new world. 

As part of celebrating this return to sort-of-normalcy, CVN is thrilled to once again present our widely-read and highly-anticipated annual lists of Top 10 most impressive plaintiff and defense verdicts. From bellwether product liability trials to automotive negligence cases to medical malpractice to slip and falls, CVN covered trials throughout the United States in 2021 featuring some of the country’s top civil trial attorneys at work on their feet in front of real juries...and donning a variety of masks. 

These are our picks for the Top 10 most impressive plaintiff verdicts that CVN covered in 2021. Please note this isn’t merely a ranking of verdict amounts. We took that into consideration along with the facts of the case, the parties and attorneys involved, and potential impact on other litigation to make our selection, which given the large numbers of trials CVN covers is always a difficult choice. 

With either a no-contract monthly or annual subscription, CVN viewers can see these trials firsthand. Analyze the openings and closing arguments yourself with almost the same perspective the jury had. Examine high-quality, digital images of the exhibits and demonstratives. Watch how expert witnesses hold up on the stand - or sometimes how they don’t. CVN provides the only online video library of civil trials availably anywhere, which is why so many law schools, in-house counsel, plaintiff and defense firms and legal journalists rely on CVN for firsthand remote trial access.

Besides our top 10 plaintiff verdict picks for 2021, make sure you also browse our top 10 lists for previous years (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). Unlimited on-demand access to all of these trials and hundreds more is included with a subscription. Also make sure to read about our top 10 defense picks!

Know about a trial in 2022 that CVN should cover? Please let us know.

Happy new year!


#1 - Erickson, et al. v. Monsanto

$185 million awarded to three teachers exposed to long-lasting PCB chemicals in a local school

Plaintiff attorneys: Rick Friedman (pictured), Henry Jones - Friedman Rubin PLLP

Friedman closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

This case marked the first major in-person toxic tort/product liability trial to take place in state court after the shutdown, and the trial played out in the cavernous hall of a convention center normally used for events like auctions and trade shows.

Three teachers who claim they developed brain damage due to exposure in the aging Sky Valley Educational Center to toxic chemicals manufactured by Bayer-owned Monsanto sued the company in Washington state court. The teachers claimed that polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in light fixtures and caulking caused serious neurological injuries.

The three plaintiffs are among hundreds of teachers and students alleging they suffered from supposed PCB contamination at the Sky Valley facility, making this initial trial an important test case both for lawsuits involving chemical contamination at the school but also more generally for putting on a trial in the unfamiliar setting of a sprawling convention center.

The plaintiffs’ team from Seattle-based law firm Friedman Rubin PLLP overcame all of these factors, along with Monsanto’s representation by one of the most formidable defense firms in the country, earning this important plaintiff verdict the #1 spot on our list for 2021.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#2 - Espana v. Republic Services

$38.8m verdict beats $1m settlement offer after child killed by garbage truck in crosswalk

Plaintiff attorney: Sean Claggett (pictured), William Sykes, Geordan Logan - Claggett & Sykes Law Firm 

Espana closing

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

As the trial lawyers reading this know all too well, taking a case to a jury is an enormous gamble. Many attorneys would understandably jump at a six-figure settlement offer, and one of the key factors that makes verdicts newsworthy for CVN’s subscribers is when a jury verdict dramatically surpasses a settlement offer in a high-stakes case.

That certainly happened here, when a Nevada state court jury awarded $38.8 million to the family of a young girl struck and killed in a crosswalk by a garbage truck, outstripping an initial $250k settlement offer later raised to $1 million. The plaintiff attorney, Sean Claggett, has a reputation for making extensive use of pre-trial focus groups.

The jury declined to award punitive damages and assigned 27 percent responsibility for the accident to decedent, thus reducing her family’s potential share of the verdict by roughly $10.5 million. However Claggett told CVN after the trial he anticipated collecting an additional $15 million in attorney fees, costs and prejudgment interest.

“It’s a fantastic result, especially knowing what the offers were,” he said.

Read more via the CVN News Blog

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#3 - Weist v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al.

South Carolina jury awards $32 million following four-day asbestos trial

Plaintiff attorneys: Scott Frost (pictured) - Frost Law Firm PC, Bonnie Steinwolf, Kush Shukla - Meirowitz & Wasserberg LLP)

Frost closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

This case marked just the second in-person asbestos trial in South Carolina following the shutdown, after the first asbestos trial the previous week (also filmed by CVN) ended in a defense verdict.

Retired South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, who presides over the state’s asbestos docket, is known for running a rigorously efficient courtroom, and while many asbestos trials can stretch for weeks, this case ended with a $32 million verdict against Kraft Heinz-owned company Metal Masters Inc. after just four days.

That would be impressive enough, but the added factors of the award including $10 million in punitive damages and the challenges of winning a “take home” case involving the plaintiff’s alleged exposure to asbestos on her husband’s and uncle’s work clothes earned this trial the number 3 spot on our list.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#4 - Giacalone v. v. MedicWest Ambulance Inc.

$29.5 million awarded after EMT’s negligent peanut allergy treatment causes brain damage

Plaintiff attorneys: Christian Morris (pictured), Victoria Allen - Nettles Morris Law Firm, Jeffrey Cook - Driggers Schultz & Herbst

NV closings-1

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

In April a Nevada state court jury awarded $29.5 million to the family of a young woman who developed severe brain damage due to an allergic reaction to peanuts at a Las Vegas magic convention and allegedly did not receive proper treatment from emergency medical technicians on-site.

The trial, which took place in a massive repurposed convention center space, was one of the first major in-person civil trials in Nevada since 2020.

Plaintiff Chantel Rose Giacalone suffered the reaction after accidentally ingesting ice cream with a pretzel topping containing peanut butter while attending a convention for magic enthusiasts at the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center in 2013.

The verdict is less than the approximately $60 million that Giacalone’s attorneys sought, but is also substantially more than the $8 million MedicWest’s attorneys suggested the jury award, in the event they found the company liable.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#5 - Smith v. MV Transportation Inc.

$21.6m awarded to parents of teen killed by city bus, beating $4.9m settlement offer

Plaintiff attorney: Garo Mardirossian (pictured), Larry Marks - Mardirossian Akaragian LLP

Garo closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A California state court jury awarded $21.6 million in November to the parents of a teenager struck and killed on her bike in a crosswalk by a metro bus.

Plaintiffs Barry and Rose Smith sued transportation services contractor MV Transportation Inc. in 2017 following the death of their daughter Ciara, blaming the bus driver’s and company’s supposed negligence for the fatal collision.

The jury found MV Transportation 75 percent negligent, while assigning 10 percent liability to the California Department of Transportation and 15 percent to the City of Redondo Beach, both of whom settled out of the case before the trial.

While that apportionment reduces the Smith’s percentage of the verdict to $16.2 million, their attorney Garo Mardirossian told Courtroom View Network after the trial that settlements of $4.9 million each with the state and city plus interest and costs will push the total actual award to $32.1 million.

Mardirossian also told CVN the jury’s award surpasses MV Transportation’s highest settlement offer of $4.9 million.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#6 - Lipp v. Philip Morris

$43m verdict hits Philip Morris for Florida woman’s cancer death

Plaintiff attorneys: Michael Alvarez (pictured), Alex Alvarez (Alvarez Law Firm)

Alvarez closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A Florida jury handed down a $43 million verdict against Philip Morris in September after finding the company responsible for the cancer death of a woman who had smoked the company's Virginia Slims cigarettes.

The verdict, in Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit, includes $15 million in compensatory damages and $28 million in punitives for the 1993 lung cancer death of Norma Lipp.

Lipp, 55,  had smoked between 1 and 2 packs of cigarettes a day for decades, including roughly 15 years smoking Virginia Slims. Her family claims the company’s participation in a long-running conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking hooked her to nicotine and caused her fatal cancer.

The case is among thousands that stem from Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., a 1994 Florida class-action lawsuit against the nation's tobacco companies that led to a plaintiffs' verdict at trial.

CVN has recorded the vast majority of so-called “Engle progeny” trials to date.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#7 - Bralock/Fryman v. American University of Health Sciences

Fired professors awarded $2.4 million, including punitives, in wrongful termination trial

Plaintiff attorneys: Twila White (pictured) - Law Office of Twila S. White, Iverson Jackson - Iverson Matthew Jackson Law Firm PC

White closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A California state court jury awarded $2.4 million in October to two professors who claimed they were fired from a small Christian nursing school in retaliation for launching an investigation into sexual harassment claims against the school’s founder.

The jury awarded compensatory damages totaling roughly $654,000 to Anita Bralock, a former dean of the nursing school at the American University of Health Sciences, and $751,000 to Brandon Fryman, a former professor at the school, in addition to $500,000 each in punitive damages.

Both professors claimed Johnson fostered an overly sexualized and hostile work environment at the school, and that Johnson’s role as the school’s Title IX coordinator created an impermissible conflict of interest after students raised allegations of unwanted touching and sexually inappropriate comments.

White told CVN after the trial that the multi-million verdict is significant for other private schools like AUHS that receive federal funding.

“I think it sends a message particularly I would say to religious schools, because this pastor was trying to hide behind religion and community service and all of those things to shift the focus from the wrongdoing that he had engaged in,” White said.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#8 - Castillo v. Davignon

$9.5m award over child’s crosswalk death beats out $1.2m settlement offer

Plaintiff attorneys: Nicholas Rowley (pictured), Benjamin Novotny - Trial Lawyers For Justice, Charlotte Glinka, Karen Zahka - Keches Law Group

Castillo closings

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A Massachusetts state court jury awarded $9.5 million in damages on Friday to the two adult children of a woman struck and killed by a truck while walking her dog in 2017.

Attorneys for defendant Charles Davignon, who drove the truck that struck Rosenthal, conceded that he was liable for her death. That left the jury tasked solely with determining how much to compensate Rosenthal’s children for the death of their mother, a teacher who was 52 at the time of the accident.

“For the last three years, the defendant refused to take responsibility for their mother’s death,” plaintiff’s attorney Nicholas Rowley of  Trial Lawyers for Justice said in a statement released after the verdict. “That changed during this trial. This trial was necessary because the insurance company acted irresponsibly and cheaply. Now they’ll have to face the consequences.”

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#9 - Wolford v. Jimenez

$11 million verdict in wrongful death DUI case with no settlement offer

Plaintiff attorneys: Daniel Ryan (pictured), Joelle Misuraca - The Cottle Firm 

Wolford closing

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A Nevada state court jury in August awarded $11 million to the seven adult children of an 80-year old man killed by a drunk driver who blew through a stop sign in a residential neighborhood.

The jurors returned the verdict following a relatively brief trial that began two days earlier. The trial involved only the question of the amount of damages to award to the children of Joseph Wolford Sr, after the issue of the drunk driver’s liability was resolved on summary judgment based on Luis Jiimenez’s criminal conviction for the 2017 accident.

Jimenez’s insurer, Geico, argued that while he was liable for the accident that Wolford was partially responsible due to allegedly slowly rolling through his stop sign at the intersection where the collision occurred. While the jury found Wolford was negligent, they also determined his actions did not cause the crash.

Read more via the CVN News Blog


#10 - Rosenberg v. Muhletaler, et al.

$2.4m+ award in medical malpractice trial over robot-assisted prostate surgery

Plaintiff attorneys: Karen Terry (pictured), Matthew Schwencke -  Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA

Terry closing

Link to video of the full trial:

Why it made the list:

A Florida state court jury in April awarded more than $2.4 million for the injuries they found a plaintiff suffered because of a robot-assisted prostate surgery.

The plaintiff suffered a rectal tear during the robot-assisted, simple prostetectomy performed by his surgeon. The complaint claimed the surgeon did not properly repair the tear, which resulted in serious complications and requiring additional surgery.

The $2.44 million total award is slightly more than the $2.4 million the plaintiffs' attorney, Searcy Denney's Karen Terry, requested during the trial's closings. After the verdict, Terry told CVN that the defense had offered nothing to settle the case pre-trial. “

They offered a high-low (agreement) after the jury asked for a calculator,” Terry added. "And it was too little, too late.”

Read more via the CVN News Blog


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for our top 10 defense picks coming soon!

E-mail David Siegel at

Topics: Negligence, Products Liability, Florida, Georgia, automotive, California