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Payne Mitchell Ramsey featured in Dallas Morning News for $16.3M jury verdict

Lawyers for a 56-year-old Fort Worth air conditioning repairman severely burned while fixing a compressor are asking a state judge to uphold a multimillion-dollar judgment for their client. Clarence Johnson sued St. Louis-based Emerson Climate Technologies and Fusite for designing and selling the defective compressor that sprayed scorching oil on his face and torso while he was repairing the unit. Johnson suffered second- and third-degree burns on 62 percent of his body.

On Oct. 23, a Fort Worth jury agreed with Johnson and ordered Emerson and Fusite to pay $16.3 million in damages. Andy Payne, a Dallas lawyer representing Johnson, said he planned to ask State District Judge David Evans in Tarrant County to uphold the jury verdict and issue a final judgment against Emerson at a court hearing scheduled for Monday.

Lawyers for Emerson and Fusite did not respond to inquiries. A spokesperson for Emerson and Fusite, which are sister companies, declined to comment. Defense lawyers are expected to ask the judge to set aside the verdict and announce their intention to appeal.

The jury heard testimony from 30 witnesses during the three-week trial in October. Key evidence, according to Payne, was that Emerson admitted in its own U.S. patent filings that the compressor was defective and that it fixed the problem in subsequent units. “Emerson knew its product was defective, but it made no effort to warn people,” said Payne, a partner at Payne Mitchell Ramsey in Dallas.

The jury deliberated for four days before reaching a verdict that awarded Johnson $16.3 million in damages, including $7 million for pain and suffering and more than $3 million for past and future medical expenses. “We hope that Emerson will receive the message sent by this Tarrant County jury and take steps to improve their products’ design and warnings so this never happens again,” Payne said.



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