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— San Diego's plaintiffs' attorneys were set to have their own version of the Academy Awards on Tuesday at a festive dinner in the ballroom of the Wyndham Emerald Hotel downtown. Calling themselves the "Consumer Attorneys of San Diego," the group announced its "Trial Lawyer of the Year" award would go to Kevin Quinn for "a $4 million verdict against Desert Hospital of Palm Springs in a case in which brain injuries sustained by a minor child were misdiagnosed and mistreated, resulting in mental retardation." Quinn also won for a case where "mistakes in administering anaesthesia to the plaintiff resulted in the victim being reduced to life in a vegetative state. An arbitration panel awarded $2.36 million for the plaintiff." Yet another Quinn victory came in a case where "Kaiser misdiagnosed a patient's blood clot, leading to her death." Funds awarded in that action "enabled claimants to purchase annuities for claimants' daughters that will pay out over a million dollars during the course of their lives." In the category of "Outstanding Trial Lawyer," Rhonda Holmes-Thompson took home the trophy "for her work in Caltrans v. Erreca's in which the California Department of Transportation offered a general engineering contractor only $1.95 million for condemning his property in circumstances that made relocation nearly impossible. After a 30-day trial, the jury needed only a half hour to return a $5 million verdict in favor of Holmes-Thompson's client." ... Elisabeth Semel, the ex-San Diego death-penalty defense attorney, has moved to the nation's capital to take over the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Representation Project.

Surfers' Red Glow

Unit One of the San Onofre nuclear power plant may be permanently shut down as early as next year, and the huge pile of plutonium waste that has been building up for nearly 30 years will be entombed forever right next to the San Onofre beach state park. So says the Electricity Daily, which reports the controversial plan needs approval of the state's Public Utility Commission before it can be carried out. Called "dry cask" storage, the burial of nuclear waste next to defunct power plants like Unit One is needed because the nation's "high level" waste burial site in the deserts of Nevada has been stalled by irate Nevadans. The other two nukes at San Onofre are expected to operate another 40 years or so ... That World Trade Organization meeting so eagerly coveted by Susan Golding and her coterie of local boosters may not be coming here after all. Hawaii narrowly edged out San Diego in a U.S. State Department critique. Hawaii's only downside is the 18-hour flight from Geneva to Honolulu ... Readers of the Union-Tribune who think that San Diego's sewage-into-drinking-water plan is dead and buried might be surprised to read an announcement about the program in last week's Engineering News Record: "Program start-up will be delayed from 2001 to 2005, when a 12-mile-long pipeline planned by the San Diego County Water Authority will allow distribution to reservoirs citywide."

Ayatollah's Rules

Local military contractor Cubic Defense Systems has lost a big one in local federal court. U.S. Judge Rudi Brewster has confirmed a $2.8 million judgment in favor of the government of Iran. According to a recent account in Mealy's International Arbitration Report, Cubic argued that after the Shah was overthrown in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Defense stopped payment on a sophisticated combat jet pilot training system Cubic had sold the Iranians. When the new government failed to take delivery of the equipment, Cubic sold it to the government of Canada, while pocketing $30 million in Iranian payments. Iran sought arbitration by the International Chamber of Commerce, whose decision in its favor was upheld by Brewster. Cubic has vowed to appeal ... Medallion Financial Corp., a New York outfit that wheels and deals in taxicab medallions, the government-issued permits allowing cabbies to operate on city streets, has hit the beach in San Diego with the purchase of "taxi top" advertising signs on an undisclosed number of city cabs.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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