CenturyLink Settles Case That Produced $90 Million Award
CenturyLink Inc. (CTL)’s Qwest unit settled a lawsuit over a utility-pole accident that left a Colorado worker paralyzed, ending a case that at one point produced a $90 million award.
CenturyLink today confirmed the accord after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled that the two sides had settled. The high court last week dismissed a Qwest appeal that challenged an $18 million punitive damage award in the case.
“The parties have settled their disputes to their mutual satisfaction,” said Mark Molzen, a CenturyLink spokesman, in an e-mail. Molzen wouldn’t disclose terms of the accord.
CenturyLink, based in Monroe, Louisiana, rose 37 cents to close at $36.96 in New York trading. The company acquired Qwest, a regional phone company, last year.
A state-court jury awarded damages after concluding that Qwest failed to properly maintain a rotted pole, which fell while Andrew Blood was atop it removing attachments in 2004.
In addition to the punitive damages, the jury awarded $21 million in compensatory damages to Blood and his wife. A trial judge increased the punitive damages to $62 million and added interest. A Colorado state appeals court upheld the jury verdict, while setting aside the increase because the judge failed to hold a hearing.
William L. Keating, a Denver lawyer who represents the family, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
The case is Qwest Services v. Blood, 11-341.
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