Washington Court of Appeals Upholds $23.9 Million Jury Verdict – Christopher P. Yuhl
1. 4. 22

Port Townsend family received $23.9 million verdict in case against Jefferson Healthcare after medical errors lead to baby’s permanent brain injury

Port Townsend, Wash. – On December 20, 2019, a Washington jury awarded a $23.9 million verdict in favor of a Port Townsend family whose baby suffered permanent brain injury when she slowly suffocated during labor and delivery at Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center in 2014. The verdict against Jefferson County Public Hospital District, which operates the medical center and several other area clinics, was handed down in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Christopher P. Yuhl of Yuhl | Carr originated and litigated the matter along with co-counsel from the Luvera Law Firm of Seattle Washington, which also tried the case to a successful conclusion.

The jury agreed with plaintiffs Anna Scott and Zachary Burke that doctors and nurses missed several critical signs that their baby, Lana Burke, was in distress during delivery with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, depriving her of oxygen. The baby, who was born blue and needed extensive resuscitation to begin breathing on her own, now suffers permanent brain damage that will severely limit her mental and physical capabilities for the rest of her life.

At trial, attorneys for Scott and Burke argued that medical providers used a fetal heart monitor during delivery, but failed to realize that it was picking up the mother’s heartbeat – not the baby’s – for most of the last three hours before birth, misleading them into thinking the baby was fine.

According to Christopher Yuhl, Baby Lana was essentially strangled by her own umbilical cord and Jefferson Healthcare medical providers did nothing to intervene until after delivery when emergency resuscitation efforts took place. The baby was then airlifted to the Tacoma General Hospital neonatal intensive care unit. “The medical team’s actions – or inactions – deprived her of oxygen, leaving Lana profoundly brain injured,” said Robert Gelatly, lead trial lawyer for the Luvera Law Firm.

Medical experts testified there are several safety measures that labor and delivery teams should use to prevent what’s known as “maternal and fetal heart rate confusion”, including easy fixes such as routinely taking the mother’s heart rate separately from the machine and comparing it to the fetal strip to see if they are identical which would tell them they are missing the baby’s heartrate.

In this case, Jefferson Healthcare did not have those protocols in place. The healthcare providers only noted the mother’s heart rate one time in nearly four hours – and then, even though it perfectly matched the heart tracing, they failed to confirm possible confusion or take action to help Baby Lana. The care team also missed the fact that the heart rate being recorded was accelerating with each contraction, which is a clear indicator they were mistaking the mother’s heart rate for the baby’s heartrate.

“There were many opportunities to see that Lana was in trouble, but the medical team missed every one of them,” Anna Scott said. “Now Lana will have to live with the consequences of the doctor’s and nurse’s poor decision making for the rest of her life.”

Diagnosed with severe brain injury shortly after birth, treating physicians at Tacoma General and plaintiff’s experts testified that Lana Burke will have permanent cognitive impairment, speech and language deficits, and impaired motor skills. Now almost eight years old, she can walk unsteadily but can’t dress or properly feed herself or speak sentences.

“Lana is such a blessing in our lives, and has the most beautiful smile and heart – but she will need care for the rest of her life, and this verdict ensures she has a financial safety net to sustain her for decades to come,” Scott said. “It’s equally important to Zach and me that other parents know about this critical safety issue, and for Jefferson Healthcare to be held accountable so that we can help prevent this from happening to another family.”

The case initially went to trial in October 2018, but a mistrial was declared when the County could not produce enough potential jurors for the pool Prior to the first trial, plaintiffs demanded the $7 million policy limits from Jefferson County Health, which was declined. Following the mistrial and change of venue to Kitsap County, the plaintiffs entered into a “high-low” agreement with Defendant General Electric whom the plaintiffs alleged provided a defectively designed Fetal Heart Monitoring device. The agreement was approved by the Court without objection from Jefferson County Healthcare. The plaintiffs reasserted their policy limits demand prior to the second trial which again Jefferson County Healthcare allowed to expire.

During Jury deliberations, the hospital’s carrier finally offered the policy limits but only under the condition it was accepted prior to the Jury coming back with a verdict. The offer was declined, and the Jury returned with a verdict of $23.9 million in favor of the parents and injured child. GE was dismissed prior to Jury Instructions. Jefferson County appealed the verdict in 2020.

On January 4, 2022, the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division II, returned its unpublished opinion denying all six components of Defendant Jefferson County Healthcare’s Appeal.

The Judgement, including nominal interest, now amounting to $25.5 million, was paid in full by the hospital’s insurance carrier. No petition to the Supreme Court of Washington was filed.

The total settlement amount, after interest and amounts tendered by GE pursuant to the pre-trial agreement, exceeded $26 Million.

Passing of Founding and Senior Partner, Eric F. Yuhl
3. 14. 21

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of one of our founding and senior partners, Eric Yuhl.  Eric died on March 14 at the age of 64 in his adopted hometown of Del Mar. 

Eric enjoyed a brilliant career as a litigator and trial lawyer after a childhood in West Los Angeles and an education which took him south where he graduated from U.C. San Diego and the University of San Diego School of Law.  After his admission to practice in 1981, Eric cut his legal teeth as an associate in a major downtown law firm and a concurrent stint as a specially assigned trial attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  In 1985 Eric opened his own office in Santa Monica and devoted the balance of his career to the handling and trial of complex personal injury, mass tort, consumer class action, sex abuse and employment cases.  He was joined in partnership in 1992 by his brother Chris.  Together they built what is today the firm of Yuhl Carr LLP based in Marina del Rey where Eric’s oldest son Colin is also now a partner. 

Eric is survived by his wife Janet, his children Colin, Keegan, Lindsay and Taylor; his stepson Stuart; 4 grandchildren to date and counting; his brother Chris and 6 sisters; and, 21 nieces and nephews.  He will be deeply missed by all and by his “work family” at Yuhl Carr which includes most prominently his legal assistant and friend of 36 years, Susan Ceglarski.

We anticipate that final arrangements and an appropriate farewell to Eric will be scheduled when permitted by health and safety protocols. 

In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, the family has asked that donations be made to Surfrider Foundation San Diego County at https://sandiego.surfrider.org/.

12. 31. 20

Marina del Rey, CA., December, 2020. Yuhl | Carr, LLP, a premier civil litigation firm in California, is proud to announce that Senior Partner Christopher P. Yuhl has been appointed Leadership Counsel for the Plaintiffs Steering Committee In Re: Profemur Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation Multi-District Litigation (MDL) No. 2949, by the Honorable Katherine G. Baker. Mr. Yuhl will serve alongside Co-lead counsel N. Kirkland Pope (Pope McGlamry) and George E. McLaughlin (Warshauer McLaughlin Law Group) in this MDL.

On September 23rd. 2020, MicroPort Orthopedics Inc. announced a Class 1 Device Recall on the PROFEMUR Neck Long and Extra Long Titanium. The recall stated that the PROFEMUR Titanium modular neck has been reported to fracture after implantation in certain cases. This recall is in addition to MicroPort’s Class 1 Recall of the Profemur Cobalt and Chromium Long A/R modular necks due to corrosion and fracture. Pope McGlamry and McLaughlin Law Firm are leading the state coordinated litigation involving Profemur hip implant failures in front of Judge Robert Weiss in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee.

Jim Carr and Tyler Barnett File Suit Against Amazon Logistics, Inc. for Vicarious Liability
9. 24. 20

On July 23, 2020 at around 2:10 a.m., Calvin Everhart, 53, of San Fernando, was driving a Hino truck northbound on US-395, just south of the South China Lake Boulevard exit in Ridgecrest, CA when he crossed over the center line and collided head-on with plaintiff Luis Angel Valdes, 41, of Hesperia, who was driving a Freightliner. Calvin Everhart succumbed to injuries sustained in the collision and was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Valdes survived, but suffered catastrophic injuries including a traumatic brain injury that will require a lifetime of care. Mr. Everhart was transporting freight on behalf of Amazon Logistics, Inc., who denies liability for the crash. 

Plaintiff contends the following rule of law applies.  Highway motor carriers licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are liable for the negligence of their independent contractor truckers who cause a traffic accident. (Gamboa v. Conti Trucking, Inc. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 663, 665-668.)  This rule of liability is derived from the public policy exception which imputes liability to the hirer of an independent contractor when the work delegated to the contractor involves an unreasonable risk of harm to others and can lawfully be performed only under a license or franchise granted by public authority. (Serna v. Petty Leach Trucking, Inc. (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1475, 1486.)  Amazon Logistics, Inc., therefore, owed a non-delegable duty to plaintiff pursuant to the above prevailing law and is vicariously liable for the negligent acts and omissions of its independent contractors.

Eric and Colin Yuhl Obtain $3,081,000 For Injured Electrician
9. 6. 18

On October 5, 2015, subcontractor defendant Cross dug up an underground utility during excavation work on behalf of general contractor defendant PMC, breaking open the outer plastic conduit and exposing the interior lines. The Plaintiff, a 64 year-old electrician was asked by Cross to confirm the exposed utility was an abandoned (not live) low voltage communications line. After Plaintiff’s initial wand test was negative for power, he cut into the insulation of one of the lines intending to perform a second verification wire test. The line exploded blowing Plaintiff out of the trench. Even though both the subcontractor and general contractor both testified they believed it was a low voltage communications line, it turned out to be a 12,000 voltage SCE high power line.

Plaintiff received a settlement totaling $3.081 million. Read more about the case here

Eric and Colin Yuhl Obtain Final Approval of Class Action Against Mercedes-Benz
3. 8. 18

On March 5, 2018, Judge James V. Selna of the United States District Court granted a motion for  Final Approval of a class action settlement involving defective Mercedes-Benz seat heaters. Eric Yuhl and Colin Yuhl were approved as class counsel.  It is estimated that the settlement may generate up to $72 million in recovery for affected consumers. The class alleged that approximately 270,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles nationwide have defectively designed seat heaters that may smoke, spark, burn or catch fire while in use. The settlement provides a free repair for any affected vehicle, reimbursement for past repairs up to $1,000 for consumers that already experienced a seat heater failure, and automatic extended warranty coverage for seat heaters. The seat heater repair was specifically created by Mercedes as a direct result of this class action suit. Vehicles covered by the settlement include the M-Class, R-Class, and GL-Class SUV’s for model years 2000 – 2007. 

9. 29. 17

September 29, 2017 (Marina del Rey, CA.) – Following a six-year litigious battle in both Atlanta US District Court and Los Angeles Superior Court, we are pleased to announce a settlement program that will resolve all remaining eligible pending claims against Wright Medical regarding the Wright Conserve Defective Hip Devices.

While there are some limitations, the settlement represents another victory for over 600 pending claims initially excluded in the settlement of more than 1,300 claims of certain Wright Medical metal-on-metal hip implant patient-claimants in November 2017. Those claimants had hips revised at least 150 days and no more than eight years post-implant. The current settlement involved hips that were implanted over 8 years.

As a brief history, the Wright Conserve Multi-District Litigation (MDL) was created in February 2012, consolidating all federal court cases in the Northern District of Georgia before United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. Additionally, a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) petition was approved in May 2012 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jane Johnson, consolidating California state-court cases involving Wright Medical hip replacement and revision matters, including Wright Medical’s Conserve, Lineage, and Dynasty hip implants. The Hon. Judge Ann Jones has since taken over this JCCP. The Hon. Diane M. Welsh (Ret.) led the extended settlement negotiations and has tirelessly collaborated with the parties to help facilitate the settlement.

Wright Conserve Final Settlement Details

Christopher P. Yuhl, Yuhl | Carr Managing Partner, who also serves as Plaintiffs’ Leadership Counsel, explained that the settlement calls for a payout over time, because of Wright’s financial condition and Wright is working to obtain $35 million from its insurance carriers by December 31, 2017. “Wright has been in litigation with their carriers for three years,” he said. “The total amount of the second and third settlement programs is $89.75 million, bringing the total for all settlements to $340 million.”

When combined with the first settlement in November 2016 of $270 million, the final settlement will cover all eligible claims left in the MDL, JCCP and on tolling agreements. Due to Wright’s financial situation, values will be discounted from the first settlement, but will include standard awards as well as an Enhanced Injury Fund (EIF) to supplement more significant injuries.

When completed, the only remaining claims will be:

  • Ineligible claims – which should be remanded by the court
  • Non-revised claims dismissed by the court (also under the tolling agreement)
  • Claims to be remanded by the court as opt-outs from one of the three settlements
Eric and Colin Yuhl Obtain Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement for Defective Seat Heaters
9. 21. 17

On September 18, 2017, Judge James V. Selna of the United States District Court granted a motion for pre-approval of a class action settlement involving defective Mercedes-Benz seat heaters. Eric Yuhl and Colin Yuhl were approved as class counsel.  It is estimated that the settlement generated between $54 and $72 million in recovery for affected consumers. The class alleged that approximately 270,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles nationwide have defectively designed seat heaters that may smoke, spark, burn or catch fire while in use. The settlement provides a free repair for any affected vehicle, reimbursement for past repairs up to $1,000 for consumers that already experienced a seat heater failure, and automatic extended warranty coverage for seat heaters. The seat heater repair was specifically created by Mercedes as a direct result of this class action suit. Vehicles covered by the settlement include the M-Class, R-Class, and GL-Class SUV’s for model years 2000 – 2007. 

YUHL | CARR Sponsors Charity Event for Kids
3. 16. 17

YUHL | CARR LLP is proud to be a title sponsor of the Urban Compass charity event "A Supreme Evening." This fantastic event, taking place April 27, 2017 at the Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, will be honoring Girardi Keese Lawyers and MUSE/IQE for their commitment to direct student support for Urban Compass kids.  Established in 2004, Urban Compass offers services to the youth and families of Los Angeles. Focusing on mentorship from local high school and college students, core academic support, and engaging enrichment activities, its after-school and summer programs for Kindergarten through 5th graders aim to help students navigate through elementary school, keeping them out of gangs and on a path to college and a hopeful future. Using a cohort model, Urban Compass works to support the same families through each of their crucial elementary school years to improve school attendance, family engagement, homework completion, reading and core academic performance, and create a solid foundation for a successful college pathway.  YUHL | CARR LLP is honored to be a title sponsor of the event.  To learn more about Urban Compass, visit its website.  For tickets and additional information about "A Supreme Evening," click here.

Eric and Colin Yuhl Obtain Preliminary Approval of $120 Million Class Action Settlement
2. 3. 17

Co-lead counsel for the class Eric F. Yuhl and Colin A. Yuhl recently obtained preliminary approval of a $120 million class action settlement involving false and misleading advertising by a food manufacturer that misrepresented its meat-substitute protein as being similar to a mushroom, when in fact it was a scientifically-engineered mold.  United States District Judge Molly Gee granted a motion for pre-approval of the settlement terms, which will provide a full refund to any consumer with an itemized receipt for the products purchased within the last five years.  Further, consumers without an itemized receipt but with proof of purchase for any store that carried the manufacturer’s products and who provide a statement that they purchased those products are eligible to receive up to $200 in reimbursement.  Finally, the manufacturer agreed to remove references to its products as being similar to mushrooms from its food labeling and website, and instead provide an accurate label on its products informing consumers of the true contents of its food.  The settlement does not contain any cap on the amount of refunds, but estimates of the class size indicate that the total value created for the class is approximately $120 million. Additional information on the terms of the settlement may be found here.