Nevada court overturns jury award to parents of injured son
November 23, 2004
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a $3.3 million jury award to a Las Vegas couple who care for a son left in a vegetative state by a botched hernia operation in 1994.
The ruling Monday favors attorneys Randall Mainor and Richard Harris, who obtained a $17 million settlement for Jason Nault, 21 at the time of the outpatient operation, and his wife, Louise.
Jason Nault’s parents, Wendy and Phil Nault, sued Mainor and Harris after learning that he had received only 14 percent of the $17 million settlement while his wife got 38 percent. Forty percent went to the lawyers and the rest was for bills and court costs.
At the request of his wife, Jason was returned to his parents’ home in May 1997. The parents said Louise Nault stopped visiting her husband in November 2000, and they subsequently obtained a divorce on their son’s behalf.
In January 2002, a Clark County jury found Mainor and Harris committed malpractice while handling the personal injury case of Jason Nault. Jurors concluded the lawyers had a conflict in representing both Jason Nault and his wife.
The Supreme Court on Monday overturned that jury verdict, noting Clark County District Judge Lee Gates approved the $17 million settlement in 1996 and the Naults erred by not trying to set aside his order. Justices said the Naults approved of the $17 million total but objected to the division of the money.
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The high court also said Gates was given enough information to determine that Jason Nault’s medical needs always would be met. Under the settlement, his share paid for an annuity providing him $32,000 a month for permanent medical care. That amount increases 2 percent a year.