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Date: 03-10-2006

Case Style: Allen Sutton and Patricia Tollette v. Med-Lift & Mobility, Inc.

Case Number: CJ-04-0001

Judge: Joe Sam Vassar

Court: District Court, Creek County, Oklahoma - Bristow Division

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Ken Ray Underwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma and and Laurie Miller, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Defendant's Attorney:

Steve Holden and Michelle Skeens of Holden & Carr, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Allen Sutton and Patricia Tollette sued Med-Lift & Mobility, Inc. and Beeline Furniture, Inc., on a products liability theory for the injuries and damages that they sustained in a fire involving a reclining lift chair manufactured by Med-Lift & Mobility, Inc., a Mississippi corporation, and sold to the Plaintiffs by Beeline Furniture, Inc. Plaintiffs claimed that the chair in question was defective and unreasonably dangerous, and that it started a fire in their home. Plaintiffs sought property damages, and Ms. Tollette sought personal injury damages. Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages against the manufacturer.

Mr. Sutton was sleeping in the chair at the time the fire started, but was able to get out of the chair and escape the house without injury. Ms. Tollette received burns while allegedly assisting Mr. Sutton out of the chair. During her 20-day hospitalization, Ms. Tollette was treated for first and second degree burns; remained intubated for most of her hospital stay; and was diagnosed with severe heart disease, receiving a heart catheterization. Her medical bills totaled in excess of $160,000.

The Plaintiffs' experts could not identify any component in the chair which would have started the fire, but maintained that they had eliminated all outside sources of the fire, and thus, the chair was the only remaining source of the fire. The Plaintiffs' only settlement offer was in the amount of $1.67 million. After a five day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict.

Outcome: Defendants' verdict.

Plaintiff's Experts: Dr. William Cronenwett, Norman; Mark Wagenhoffer, Houston, Texas; and Dr. John Fagan, Norman.

Defendant's Experts: Ralph Newell, Gainesville, Georgia; Frederick (Rick) Brooks, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dr. James Higgins, MD, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Dr. Thomas Bennett, MD, Billings, Montana.

Comments: None

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