Jury Award for Plaintiff in Turner v. TASER International - Company Intends to Appeal Based on Exclusion of Key Evidence and Other Errors
July 19, 2011, 4:05 p.m. EDT
SCOTTSDALE, AZ, Jul 19, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- TASER International, Inc. /quotes/zigman/85741/quotes/nls/tasr TASR +2.40% , a global provider of safety technologies that prevent conflict, protect life, and resolve disputes, today announced that a jury in Charlotte, North Carolina delivered a verdict against TASER International.
The case involved the death of Mr. Darryl Turner. Mr. Turner was a 17-year-old male involved in an altercation with law enforcement at a grocery store on March 20, 2008.
-- A Harvard cardiovascular pathologist, Dr. James Stone, diagnosed Mr.
Turner as having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the leading cause
of sudden cardiac arrest in young adults. Dr. Stone testified as an
expert for the defense and showed autopsy samples supporting his
-- While most people assume that cardiac arrest only occurs in older
persons, a May 2011 study in the American Journal of Cardiology found
that 25% of all deaths of persons under age 21 are due to cardiac
arrest -- and 39% of those cardiac arrests are due to cardiac problems
(such as the HCM condition present in Mr. Turner).
-- The Court excluded the jury from hearing evidence that Mr. Turner had
three baggies of marijuana in his sock during the incident. TASER
International believes this is critical evidence, as well as the fact
that a screen for marijuana and other key drugs was not performed at
autopsy, or before the lab destroyed Mr. Turner's blood evidence.
Marijuana is known to exacerbate the risk of cardiac arrhythmias in
people with HCM. There was evidence that Mr. Turner's behavior had
drastically changed from earlier in the day when he left the store,
after being confronted with, and admitting to, theft allegations,
prior to his lunch break compared to when he subsequently returned and
a confrontation with store employees and police ensued. These changes
are suggestive of possible drug usage -- and the presence of three
baggies of marijuana in Mr. Turner's sock is particularly key evidence
in light of the failure of the investigation to have tested for
marijuana in his blood or hair samples before they destroyed them.
-- A May 2011 study just released by the United States Department of
Justice found, "current research does not support a substantially
increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia in field situations, even if the
CED (TASER ECD) darts strike the front of the chest." These findings
are consistent with the May 2011 Pasquier, et al. review paper on ECD
related morbidity and mortality, which is consistent with prior
literature, including the 2009 White Paper by the American Medical
-- The court also excluded jury instructions related to contributory
negligence. Under North Carolina law, if a plaintiff has acted in a
negligent manner that contributed to their damages, even a 1%
contribution, they are barred from recovering damages from a third
party. The Company's legal counsel believe that Mr. Turner's crimes,
including theft, trespassing, drug possession, assault on fellow
employees, resisting arrest and initiation of an apparent assault on a
law enforcement officer constitute negligent behavior that
necessitated the use of force by police. The Company believes this is
an appealable error and will pursue appropriate remedies in the
-- The verdict amount will be offset by approximately $730,000 in a
settlement (including interest) from the City of Charlotte, as well as
deducting $40,000 in a settlement from worker's compensation so the
net award will be $9,230,000. Approximately $6 million of this award
will be covered by TASER International's insurance if the verdict
stands up through the appeals process.
-- Judgment has not yet been entered. TASER International has moved for
judgment in its favor not withstanding the verdict.
"This was a sad and tragic incident, and our hearts go out to Mr. Turner's family," said Doug Klint, President and General Counsel of TASER International. "We can certainly understand how the jury felt deep compassion for Mr. Turner's family, and how this compassion may have overwhelmed the scientific evidence presented in this case. However, given the important nature of this case and the exclusion of key evidence that occurred, TASER International intends to appeal this verdict."
TASER International has only received one other adverse jury verdict in the 2008 case of Betty Lou Heston v. TASER International, Inc. In that matter, on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, TASER International prevailed on the majority of legal matters and the final amount awarded to plaintiffs was reduced from more than $7 million to approximately $200,000. While the company believes it has a strong case for appeal in the Turner matter, there are no assurances that the company will again be successful on appeal.
In other legal matters:
-- On July 18, 2011, The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit upheld the summary judgment granted in TASER International's
favor in the matter of Bud Lee, et al v. Metro Govt. of Nashville, et
al. in which the trial court in granting TASER International's motion
for summary judgment found that the electronic control devices were
not defective (in design, manufacturing, or warning) or unreasonably
-- TASER has won judgment or been dismissed in 127 product liability
About TASER International, Inc.
TASER International, Inc. /quotes/zigman/85741/quotes/nls/tasr TASR +2.40% is a global provider of safety technologies that prevent conflict and protect life. More than 16,200 public safety agencies in 107 countries rely on TASER(R) electronic control devices (ECDs) and AXON on-officer camera systems to help protect and serve. TASER innovations benefit individuals and families too, providing personal protection and accountability while maintaining regard for life. Since 1994, more than 236,000 individuals have relied on TASER technology as a means for effective personal safety. Learn more about TASER International and its solutions at www.TASER.com and www.Evidence.com or by calling (800) 978-2737. Be a part of the TASER community by joining us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Note to Investors
To review the TASER International Safe Harbor Statement, please visit our Investor Relations Safe Harbor Statement at http://investor.taser.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=129937&p=irol-safeharbor .
For investor relations information please contact Katie Pyra by phone at 480-515-6330 or via email at IR@TASER.com, or Dan Behrendt, Chief Financial Officer of TASER International, Inc., 480-905-2002.
Vice President of Communications
TASER International, Inc.