A federal judge in Seattle recently threw out a $21.5 million jury verdict awarded to a man from Illinois in a lawsuit against Holland America cruise line. James R. Hausman sued the Seattle-based cruise line after a sliding glass door malfunctioned by hitting his head as it closed automatically. The accident occurred back in 2011, while he was on an around-the-world cruise.
Hausman, from Springfield, Illinois, complained of constant headaches, dizziness and even seizures after the incident, which occurred on the ship’s approach to Honolulu. Following a two-week trial, the jury concluded the injuries Hausman suffered were severe enough to cause some degree of brain damage.
Not long after, Hausman’s former personal assistant came forward with further evidence that cast doubt on Hausman’s claims. That was enough for the Seattle federal judge to call for a retrial, according to the Seattle Times.
“As a witness, he came across evasive and untrustworthy,” Judge Barbara Rothstein told the source. “He appeared to weigh each answer, not for its truthfulness, but to assess whether it would damage his case.”
The case took an interesting turn when Hausman’s ex-assistant, Amy Mizeur, leveled accusations against Hausman that included deleting multiple e-mails that would have been relevant to his case. Instead of turning all his e-mails over to Holland America’s lawyers before the trial, Moreover, he failed to mention the existence all of his e-mail accounts.
Some of the e-mails he deleted directly contradict the testimony he gave throughout the trial, according to the Seattle Times. For example, Hausman testified under oath that he regularly avoided using ladders following his injury due to a fear of falling and incurring further brain damage. According to Mizeur, there are deleted e-mails written around the same time in which Hausman explicitly mentions spending extended periods of time working on his house atop a 10-foot ladder.
Disgruntled former employee?
Hausman’s rebuttal to Mizeur’s accusations is that she is simply a disgruntled ex-employee trying to hurt his reputation. According to Hausman, he had to fire his old assistant because she forged a check with his signature. The judge doesn’t believe Hausman’s story, however. She believes Mizeur’s explanation: she only forged the signature upon Hausman’s request to do so.
The new trial doesn’t have a set date yet.