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A man who successfully sued a cruise line for a head injury may not see his $21 million in damages after all. The man's former assistant has revealed that she lied about his brain injury for him before the trial and was then fired right before the case was going to be heard, reports The Seattle Times.
James Hausman won $5 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages for an injury he sustained due to a faulty sliding glass door on a Holland America cruise ship. The company, having learned from Hausman's former assistant that he deleted emails, tampered with witnesses, and exaggerated the severity of his injury, is seeking to have the jury verdict overturned.
Lying Now or Before
Amy Mizeur, who served as Hausman's personal assistant until just before the case went to trial, testified at a hearing in federal court in Seattle that her former employer ordered her to lie about injuries. She said she enrolled him for a brain-injury study although she knew he was faking seizures. Mizeur even admitted to documenting fake seizures in emails written to others, saying, "It was a show. I never saw him struggle."
The former assistant turned to Holland America after the trial was over and after she was fired, letting the insurer know that she had helped her former employer falsify evidence. But Hausman's lawyer pointed out that she could hardly be trusted. After all, Meizer either lied after the trial or before, so she was not a reliable witness.
What's at Stake?
The unanimous verdict in Hausman's personal injury lawsuit was among the largest in recent memory in Seattle federal court. In addition to the punitive damages, Hausman, 61, was awarded $5 million for past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress. Now all of that is at risk as a court determines whether to dismiss the case or grant a new trial.
If you have been genuinely injured in any setting -- be it on a cruise ship or elsewhere -- speak to a lawyer. Consulting with counsel costs nothing.