SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwire - 07/19/11) - TASER International, Inc. (NASDAQ:TASR - News), a global provider of safety technologies that prevent conflict, protect life, and resolve disputes, today announced that a jury in Charlotte, North Carolina delivered a verdict against TASER International.The case involved the death of Mr. Darryl Turner. Mr. Turner was a 17-year-old male involved in an altercation with law enforcement at a grocery store on March 20, 2008.Key facts:
- A Harvard cardiovascular pathologist, Dr. James Stone, diagnosed Mr. Turner as having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young adults. Dr. Stone testified as an expert for the defense and showed autopsy samples supporting his expert opinion.
- While most people assume that cardiac arrest only occurs in older persons, a May 2011 study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that 25% of all deaths of persons under age 21 are due to cardiac arrest -- and 39% of those cardiac arrests are due to cardiac problems (such as the HCM condition present in Mr. Turner).
- The Court excluded the jury from hearing evidence that Mr. Turner had three baggies of marijuana in his sock during the incident. TASER International believes this is critical evidence, as well as the fact that a screen for marijuana and other key drugs was not performed at autopsy, or before the lab destroyed Mr. Turner's blood evidence. Marijuana is known to exacerbate the risk of cardiac arrhythmias in people with HCM. There was evidence that Mr. Turner's behavior had drastically changed from earlier in the day when he left the store, after being confronted with, and admitting to, theft allegations, prior to his lunch break compared to when he subsequently returned and a confrontation with store employees and police ensued. These changes are suggestive of possible drug usage -- and the presence of three baggies of marijuana in Mr. Turner's sock is particularly key evidence in light of the failure of the investigation to have tested for marijuana in his blood or hair samples before they destroyed them.
- A May 2011 study just released by the United States Department of Justice found, "current research does not support a substantially increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia in field situations, even if the CED (TASER ECD) darts strike the front of the chest." These findings are consistent with the May 2011 Pasquier, et al. review paper on ECD related morbidity and mortality, which is consistent with prior literature, including the 2009 White Paper by the American Medical Association.
- The court also excluded jury instructions related to contributory negligence. Under North Carolina law, if a plaintiff has acted in a negligent manner that contributed to their damages, even a 1% contribution, they are barred from recovering damages from a third party. The Company's legal counsel believe that Mr. Turner's crimes, including theft, trespassing, drug possession, assault on fellow employees, resisting arrest and initiation of an apparent assault on a law enforcement officer constitute negligent behavior that necessitated the use of force by police. The Company believes this is an appealable error and will pursue appropriate remedies in the appellate courts.
- The verdict amount will be offset by approximately $730,000 in a settlement (including interest) from the City of Charlotte, as well as deducting $40,000 in a settlement from worker's compensation so the net award will be $9,230,000. Approximately $6 million of this award will be covered by TASER International's insurance if the verdict stands up through the appeals process.
- Judgment has not yet been entered. TASER International has moved for judgment in its favor not withstanding the verdict.
- On July 18, 2011, The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the summary judgment granted in TASER International's favor in the matter of Bud Lee, et al v. Metro Govt. of Nashville, et al. in which the trial court in granting TASER International's motion for summary judgment found that the electronic control devices were not defective (in design, manufacturing, or warning) or unreasonably dangerous.
- TASER has won judgment or been dismissed in 127 product liability cases.
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Vice President of Communications
TASER International, Inc.