May 23, 2011
Appeals Court Significantly Reduces Award in Heston Lawsuit Against TASER
2008 Verdict and Attorney Fees Award Reduced by $6.6 Million
Scottsdale, Ariz. - TASER International, Inc. (NASDAQ: TASR), a global provider of safety technologies that prevent conflict, protect life, and resolve disputes, today announced that it has prevailed in vacating three of the four monetary awards that were appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Heston v. TASER International, Inc., City of Salinas, et al., N.D. Cal. Case No. C 05-03658 JW.
The Heston case received international attention in June 2008 as the first and only adverse verdict against TASER International related to the use of its products. The Company has been successful in getting dismissals in 127 other product liability lawsuits.
The jury apportioned 85 percent of the responsibility for the death of Mr. Heston to his use of toxic methamphetamines and related factors, and 15 percent to TASER International. The jury awarded Plaintiffs $5.2 million in punitive damages, and compensatory damages of $1,000,000 to Mr. Heston’s parents and $21,000 to his estate. The compensatory damages were reduced to $150,000 and $3,150 respectively due to the 85 percent contributory negligence of Mr. Heston.
The District Court found that the Jury’s award of $5,200,000 in punitive damages was improper as a matter of law and ordered those damages disregarded. However, the trial court did award $1,423,127 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1021.5.
Both TASER and the plaintiffs filed appeals in this case. The Appellate Court ruled in TASER’s favor on three of four significant damages issues: the elimination of punitive damages was upheld, the award of attorneys’ fees was vacated, and the damage award to the estate of Mr. Heston was vacated. The court upheld the damage award to the parents in the amount of $150,000.
TASER is also responsible for $52,700 in costs and interest.
“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeals vacated $6,626,277 in damages and attorneys’ fees in this case,” said Doug Klint, President and General Counsel of TASER International, Inc. “We believe that the scientific data and medical studies since this case occurred have largely disproven the allegations against TASER in this case. We remain committed to aggressively defending litigation filed against law enforcement and TASER, as well as, developing and delivering the safest options available to law enforcement for minimizing the risk to human life during violent, dangerous encounters such as the one in question here. We extend our condolences to the Heston family and hope that the end of this extensive legal process will allow us all to move forward.”
About TASER International, Inc.
TASER International, Inc., (NASDAQ:TASR) is a global provider of safety technologies that prevent conflict and protect life. More than 16,200 public safety agencies in 107 countries rely on TASER electronic control devices (ECDs) and AXON on-officer camera systems to help protect and serve. TASER innovations benefit individuals and families too; providing personal protection and accountability while maintaining regard for life. Since 1994, more than 236,000 individuals have relied on TASER technology as a means for effective personal safety. Learn more about TASER International and its solutions at www.TASER.com, www.Evidence.com and www.Protector.com or by calling (800) 978-2737. Be a part of the TASER community by joining us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.