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Defense Seeks Reversal of $10.6M Death Award, Says Lawyer Didn’t Disclose ‘Stink Bomb’ Email

Posted Jul 22, 2011 7:23 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A $10.6 million award in what may be Virginia's biggest wrongful death case is being challenged based on a prominent plaintiff lawyer's claimed failure to disclose what the defense says he called a "stink bomb" email, among other information.

On July 5, defense attorneys for Allied Concrete Co. and William Donald Sprouse contended in a Charlottesville Circuit Court filing that attorney Matthew Murray of the Allen Allen Allen & Allen personal injury firm and his client, Isaiah Lester, failed to disclose information in a case over the death of Lester's wife after a crash with a cement mixer, according to the Daily Progress.

On July 6, the president of the law firm tells the newspaper, Murray resigned from the firm and plans to retire from practice. The Daily Progress did not receive a response to requests for comment to Murray, who recently served as president of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Murray's lawyer, and Lester's lawyer.

The filing alleges that various information was withheld from the defense, and contends that after instructing Isaiah to take down certain Facebook photos Murray subsequently claimed Isaiah did not even have a Facebook account at the time.

The filing also alleges that Murray withheld from the court an email it says he called the stink bomb. “The stink bomb showed that the Allen firm had instructed Lester to delete photographs, completely contrary to every position the Allen firm had taken in denial of such actions up to the trial,” the filing states.

The defense is seeking a reversal of the verdict and entry of judgment against the plaintiff due to alleged discovery violations. Alternatively, it suggests that a substantial reduction in the award and barring Murray and the law firm from receiving an attorney's fee award would be appropriate.

Earlier coverage:

The Hook: "$10.6 million: Record verdict in Rt. 53 death case"

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