Firm News

Seventh Largest Verdict in U.S. History

Actos LawsuitAttorneys from Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz (AWKO) were part of the trial team that won a jury award of more than $9 billion – the seventh largest verdict in U.S. history – for former Actos user Terrence Allen, in Louisiana yesterday, to punish Actos makers for hiding bladder cancer risks of the diabetes drug.

Mark Lanier, widely regarded as one of the leading trial lawyers in the country tried the case on behalf of the plaintiff throughout the 12-week trial, which resulted in a jury decision on compensatory damages after only four hours of deliberations. That was followed by the $9 billion punitive damages decision. The compensatory damages award was nearly $1.5 million. AWKO lawyers Neil Overholtz, Nathan Bess and Sam Geisler assisted trial attorney Mark Lanier.

Witnesses in the trial included Dr. Mondira Bhattacharya, the Takeda head of US Drug Safety for Actos, who Mr. Overholtz cross-examined, as well as Dr. Meng Tan, the Medical Director for Actos at Eli Lilly, who was also cross examined by Mr. Overholtz. Leading up to the trial, Mr. Overholtz took a majority of the pre-trial depositions of the witnesses in the case including Takeda’s Sr. Vice President of Medical and Scientific Affairs, Dr. Robert Spanheimer, and Dr. Samuel Cohen, Takeda’s chief consultant on the bladder cancer issues for over a decade, both of which testified at the trial.

Neil D. Overholtz Nathan Bess, Personal Injury Attorney E. Samuel Gersler, Personal Injury Attorney
Neil Overholtz Nathan Bess Sam Geisler


Record Year for AWKO Clients

Justin G. Witkin, Personal Injury Attorney

Justin G. Witkin

In 2013, AWKO attorneys completed settlements totaling more than $350,000,000 for their clients. AWKO managing partner Justin Witkin stated: “We’re proud of our accomplishments on behalf of our clients. We have been able to achieve the best results because we have some of the brightest, hardest working attorneys in the industry and we have given them the technology, tools and resources necessary to successfully battle any defendant. At the same time, we recognize that serious recoveries come at the expense of serious injuries which money alone cannot heal. Our hope is only that the compensation we deliver to our clients in some way helps with the healing process.”


$1.5 million settlement for student injured in motorcycle wreck

Bobby J. Brad Bradford, Personal Injury Attorney

Bobby J. Brad Bradford

AWKO partner Brad Bradford continued his success in holding careless drivers responsible for injuring motorcyclists. On October 31, 2011, our  client was driving home from class when another driver recklessly pulled out in front of him. The insurance company for the other vehicle tried to blame our client for the wreck by saying he was speeding. However, Mr. Bradford was able to prove the opposing insurance company was wrong.

Mr. Bradford’s client suffered significant internal injuries, including a grade 4 liver laceration. He underwent multiple surgeries, spent several weeks in intensive care and almost 2 months in the hospital following the wreck. Although still suffering with some limitations, through hard work and determination by the client and great medical care from his doctors he made a good recovery and has returned to school. “Being a strong young man with a wonderful family supporting him made all the difference early on,” Mr. Bradford said.

“He almost didn’t make it several times. But knowing him like I do now, it is no surprise he pulled through and exceeded everyone’s expectations. So focused and driven, it was a pleasure to help him.”


AWKO spearheads settlement for property owners in groundwater contamination case.

Following a hearing on September 4, 2013, an Escambia County Circuit Court granted final approval of a class settlement and certification of a settlement class of property owners affected by the continued migration of a plume of groundwater contamination from the Conoco/Agrico Superfund Site, located in Pensacola, Florida. The groundwater plume migrated from a former fertilizer production facility over the last 100 years, and includes chemical constituents such as Radium 226/228, Fluoride, Chloride, Nitrates and Nitrites, and Sulfates, in addition to other pollutants. The class settlement amounts to $9.5 million and includes over 3600 property owners.

Nathan C. Bess, Personal Injury Attorney

Nathan C. Bess

Nathan Bess, an attorney with Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, said of the result, “This is a development in toxic torts that should be exciting news for groundwater contamination cases, especially when the source contamination has remained unchecked. First of all, it shows that plaintiffs are able to successfully prosecute litigation involving the later migration of an existing groundwater plume. Secondly, it should provide some greater incentive for polluters to admit where contamination that they are responsible for might truly end up, not just where they wish it was limited to.”

“This is also great news for Pensacola,” said Bess. “This settlement helps to bring some closure to a sad chapter in the city’s history, and shows that this community will not tolerate big corporations coming to town and ruining our natural resources. Pensacola is a great place to live and do business, but environmental quality is the cornerstone of our success as a community. I’m glad to see property owners affected by this groundwater plume get some of the closure they deserve.”