The verdicts and settlements set forth below were obtained by our law firm. In most cases, liability and/or damages were contested, the adverse parties were represented by counsel, and the matters involved complex factual and/or legal issues. These cases are illustrative of the matters handled by our firm and not all case results are provided. The case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case. Please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome and that any result we may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
The Law Office of Mark C. Tanenbaum, P.A. handles cases for injury victims throughout the nation. In several instances, our case work has led to new protection for consumers and new ways to recover for injured consumers. To give you an idea of the kinds of cases we handle, here are some case summaries of litigation with which we’ve been involved.
- Trucking Disasters
In an action filed in federal court we made a very substantial recovery of almost $7,000,000 for a long distance truck driver who ran into the rear of another large truck on an interstate highway. Through the use of an expert in accident reconstruction, we were able to show that the leading truck was going below the minimum speed limit on the interstate. Through the testimony of an expert in metallurgy we were able to show the leading truck did not have its tail lights illuminated. And through the testimony of a expert in conspicuity that the mandatory red and white reflective stripes on the leading truck were not properly spaced and were covered in slime so that they could not be seen in time by our client so that he could take any avoidance action.
In another suit filed in federal court, our client was burned to death after his car was struck on an interstate highway by a long distance truck whose driver had not had enough sleep. In addition, while the defendants had attempted to protect their assets by forming several corporations as blocks to ownership information, we were successfully able to overcome those and make a recovery of $6,000,000 for his wife.
- Product Liability & Safe Design
In this action filed in federal court we were able to make a recovery of almost $5,000,000 for a man who was operating a machine that had been built by a corporation that had since gone bankrupt and had a pre-set sale of its assets to a “new” corporation. We were able over the defense to successfully establish “successor liability” and show that the new corporation was responsible for the injury. The action was originally filed in federal court in Charleston, then went to a bankruptcy court in the midwest where the bankruptcy sale had been approved, then to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, then back to federal court in Charleston. The new corporation then appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals where we prevailed. Ultimately, after we defeated these procedural maneuvers where we prevailed at every point, we were able to resolve this matter for our client.
- Premises Design
In this action against a major gasoline company which planned and built a gas station at a busy intersection we were able to make a very substantial recovery of almost $10,000,000 after we showed that the design of the driveway leading from the station directly into the intersection was faulty and negligently designed. A mother of three children was severely injured when she mistakenly entered the intersection on what she believed to be a green light directing her to go. In fact, the light was for traffic on the highway, and not for her.
- Highway Safety
We brought suit against a state highway department and a private contractor after the repaving of a section of interstate highway resulted in hundreds of wet weather wrecks. We were able to show that the repaving had been performed in such a manner that the road was flat in many places resulting in water ponding on the highway and causing cars to hydroplane. Our recovery was in excess of $25,000,000. This suit also resulted in a new procedure being adopted in that state highway department mandating contractor to have to have a topographical survey of the highway before and after the repaving to show it was properly done and will not cause this situation.
- Negligent Repairs
A single mother of a young child moved into a rental home with her daughter. Prior to moving in, she contracted with a local gas company to turn on the gas for her stove. The gas company failed to properly connect the stove allowing gas to leak into the kitchen. When our client lit the stove to prepare the family dinner, the gas that had accumulated at floor level exploded, burning her badly. We were able to recover $3.5 million for her.
- Class Action
Fuel Surcharge Litigation against the Moving and Storage Industry
In Beach v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21458 (D.S.C. Mar. 3, 2011), we brought an anti-trust action against all of the major nationwide moving and storage companies alleging they had unlawfully conspired to set an artificially high surcharge for fuel. While there was protection built in to the antitrust laws for this industry, the protection existed only on certain conditions. In this scheme, the formula used by the industry to calculate the surcharge uniformly across the industry was improperly calculated, giving the industry a windfall profit at the expense of consumers. We were able to recover $45,000,000 for consumers in this landmark decision.
- Tenants’ Rights
In Holmes v. Rosner, 289 S.C. 287, 346 S.E.2d 37 we filed suit for a client who was severely burned in a fire that began in a fan over a stove. We argued that the landlord had a duty to provide a fit and habitable dwelling to a tenant. Such a claim was not considered a basis for recovery by a tenant against a landlord in South Carolina at that time. While we lost at the trial court level, the South Carolina Supreme Court agreed with us on appeal and reversed to recognize an express warranty of fitness and habitability in favor of tenants. At the same time, we helped to lobby the S.C. General Assembly to rewrite the landlord-tenant laws to create a landlord’s implied warranty to provide a fit and habitable dwelling. Our trial and appellate work led to a new cause of action in South Carolina courts that provides additional protection to tenants.
- Premises Liability
In Denaux v. U.S., 572 F.Supp. 659, we filed suit on behalf of an elderly woman who broke her hip after slipping on produce on the floor of a government commissary. At trial, the judge found that the commissary was negligent in the way it displayed its produce, which allowed the produce to fall to the floor. We persuaded the court to adopt this new theory of liability for South Carolina The court awarded very significant damages of $429,373, a landmark award for the time.
- Public Interest and Pro Bono
In a case we handled pro bono, we represented the Town of Sullivan’s Island when it became the first municipality in the state to adopt an ordinance that prohibited smoking in restaurants, bars, and other public work spaces. We prevailed at the trial level as well as at the South Carolina Supreme Court. Beachfront Entm’t, Inc. v. Town of Sullivan’s Island, 379 S.C. 602, 666 S.E.2d 912.
- Workplace Safety
In Ancrum vs. U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co., 301 S.C. 32, 389 S.E.2d 645 our client lost both of his arms in a conveyor belt in a factory. We sued the worker’s compensation insurer after we learned that the unguarded conveyor belt was in the same condition when it conducted a safety inspection as part of its underwriting procedure. The South Carolina Supreme Court agreed with us that in certain limited circumstances that inspection created a duty to undertake reasonable care in performing plant safety inspections.
Longshoreman Harbor Workers
In Bates vs. Merritt Seafood, Inc., 663 F.Supp. 915, 1989 A.M.C. 81 we prevailed in a Longshoreman and Harbor Worker’s suit against the owners and operators of a long line fishing vessel. Our client, a marine electronics technician, was sent to do work on a component of the electronics on the vessel. While walking across the open deck area, he slipped on what he identified as “fish slime” we argued had been left behind after the offloading of the vessel’s catch. The vessel’s owners argued the damages that could be awarded was limited to the value of the vessel. We overcame that argument at trial. The owners then argued that our client was hardly hurt based on an “Independent Medical Exam” by a physician it hired to examine him which was contradicted by the worker’s own treating physician. This also was rejected at trial and we obtained a final judgment in excess of $1,147,000 for him.
- Admiralty, Negligent Claims Handling and Bad Faith Denial of Insurance Benefits
In Schumacher v. Cooper, 850 F. Supp. 438 we were able to recover a judgment for our client under the doctrine of “pure comparative negligence” in an admiralty action after receiving an assignment of a bad faith and negligent claims handling claim from the defendant against his insurer. Our client, a guest on the defendant’s pleasure boat, was injured gravely. Unfortunately, he, the other guests and the owner-operator were all “horsing around” when he slipped under the pontoon boat on an inland lake. He then was hit by the propeller of the engine after the defendant, knowing he was under the boat, gunned it anyway. The court ruled that admiralty law would govern this action, and that admiralty law rules of pure comparative negligence applied. The court found the plaintiff was 75% at fault, and could recover damages of $144,571. Ultimately, the insurer paid significantly more than its $10,000 coverage.
- Insurance Coverage
In Vermont Mut. Ins. Co. v. Singleton, 316 S.C.5, 446 S.E. 2d 417 we made pro consumer law when the South Carolina Supreme Court held that in insurer is obligated to provide coverage and pay a judgment even if an act by its insured is intentional so long as the resulting damage was not intended Here, a schoolyard fight between two students resulted in a permanent eye injury to our client, and the insurer was obligated to pay the damages despite the blow that caused the injury being an intentional act since the resulting quality of the injury was not intended.
- Property Owners’ Rights
In Baker v. Town of Sullivan’s Island, 279 S.C. 581, 310 S.E. 2d 433 we represented the owner of an apartment building who wanted to convert the units to condominiums and sell them. The municipal officials refused to sign the necessary documents to convert them, arguing that the nature of the condominiums would increase short term rentals. We brought suit against the Town, arguing that the Town’s zoning powers could regulate use but not ownership. The Supreme Court agreed with us in another landmark decision.
- Securities Litigation and Investors’ Rights
In successful securities lititgation, U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co. vs. Patriot’s Point Dev. Autho., 788 F. Supp. 880 we recovered millions of dollars for bondholders who invested in a public bond issued for a private developer.