Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 25, 2014, 1:27pm

A $32 million judgment against Domino’s Pizza by a Jefferson County jury has been named one of the top verdicts of 2013.

The National Law Journal released its list of national verdicts by dollar amount on March 24. The Domino’s case put Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey Law Firm in the Top 100, with the case ranking at No. 60 nationally. For Texas verdicts, the case is in the Top 5.  

Attorneys Paul “Chip” Ferguson and Larry Hunter of Provost Umphrey represented the plaintiffs in the litigation.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported, on Aug. 11, 2012, Devavaram and Ruth Christopher were traveling on S. Major Drive in Beaumont when Joshua Balka, a driver for Domino’s Pizza, allegedly crossed the center lane and struck their vehicle head-on.

“The delivery driver, rushing to meet Dominos Pizza’s internal 30-minute delivery rule, was also cited for Failure to Control Speed,” the Provost Umphrey firm stated in a press release.

Ruth, 65, sustained injuries and died the next day while Devavram, 70, sustained a permanent traumatic brain injury and was left with no positive cognitive function, the suit states.

The case went to trial in Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 12, 2013, in Judge Bob Wortham’s 58th District Court and ended Aug. 27, 2013 (Case No. A192-970).

A total of $32,154,506 in damages was awarded by the jury, which includes damages for mental anguish, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, medical expenses, impairment and disfigurement, the charge states. 


The $32 million awarded is strictly actual damages, with no punitive damages included, according to Ferguson.

“It is believed to be one of, if not the, largest actual damages verdict ever returned against Dominos Pizza,” Ferguson stated.

Domino’s was represented by Houston attorney James Ray of Daw & Ray LLP.

The National Law Journal reported the top verdict in the country came in antitrust law: A $1.2 billion award against The Dow Chemical Co. in a case involving price-fixing of urethane. That outcome pushed antitrust awards to the No. 1 category, last year topping out at nearly $1.5 billion..

The Journal also reported that for the first time in years, intellectual property cases contributed no billion-dollar jury verdicts in 2013.

“The decrease in IP verdicts could reflect judges' interpretation of recent rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that make it harder to prove damages, according to plaintiff-side lawyers,” the Journal reported.

Top 5 Texas Verdicts for 2013

Aguilar v Heckmann Water Resources Inc., Dimmit County District Court

$281,639, 000 Personal Injury Motor Vehicle

Defense attorney: Ricardo Reyna, Brock Person Guerra Reyna, San Antonio

Plaintiff attorney: Jose Luis Castillo, Hernandez & Castillo, Laredo; Gene Hagood, Hagood & Newman, Alvin


Carduco Inc. v Mercedes -Benz USA LLC, Cameron County District Court

$142,478,112 Fraudulent Inducement

Defense attorney: J. Alex Huddleston, Strasburger Price, San Antonio; Merritt Spencer, Strasburger Price, Austin

Plaintiff attorney: Pete Marketos, Leslie Chaggaris, Reese Gordon Marketos, Dallas


Retractable Technologies Inc. v Becton Dickinson & Co., Eastern District of Texas

$113,508,014 Intellectual Property

Defense attorney: Robert Atkins, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York; Samuel L. Baxter, McKool Smith, Marshall

Plaintiff attorney: Roy Hardin, Locke Lord, Dallas; Otis Carroll Jr., Ireland Carroll & Kelley, Tyler


Tary Network Ltd. v Associated Air Center LP, Dallas County District Court

$48,839,752 Breach of Contract

Defense attorney: James R. Nelson, DA Piper, Dallas; Mark Nadeau, DLA Piper, Phoenix

Plaintiff attorney: Brian N. Hail and Terry Crawford, Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail & Shank, Dallas


Estate of Christopher v Domino’s Pizza, Jefferson County District Court

$32,154,498 Motor Vehicle

Defense attorney: Phillip Griffis, Houston; James L. Ray, Ray & Daw, Houston

Plaintiff attorney: Paul “Chip” Ferguson Jr., Larry Hunter, Provost Umphrey Law Firm, Beaumont

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