In Lima, Peru, where it's a New Year's Eve tradition to burn life-size dolls to cast off one's woes, revelers had a favorite effigy this year: President Alejandro Toledo. "I've sold 20 Toledo dolls," said one vendor who was nearly out of stock. Toledo's popularity has plunged to 11 percent amid protests and corruption scandals.
Big-ticket jury awards to individual plaintiffs fell last year, according a survey by Boston-based Lawyers Weekly USA. The 10 largest totaled $1.27 billion, a six-year low. And for the first time in several years, there were no tobacco lawsuits among major awards. The top 10 awards of 2003 (in millions):
1. $254.6 to two German businessmen who claimed they were cheated out of an equity stake in a European joint venture between Bertelsmann AGG and America Online.
2. $250.0 to a steelworker diagnosed with cancer, who blamed the condition on a U.S. Steel plant in Indiana.
3. $163.8 to the family of a Texas mechanic who died while trying to remove a truck tire with a blowtorch.
4. $112.0 in a medical malpractice case against New York's Long Island College Hospital.
5. $104.4 to the family of a badly injured toddler whose arm was caught in pool suction pump in Florida.
6. $100.0 to the family of a toddler who nearly drowned at an apartment-complex pool in Florida.
7. $84.5 to an Arizona cardiologist who claimed General American Life Insurance unfairly denied her disability benefits.
8. $71.0 to a child with a rare metabolic disorder that Stanford Health Services of San Francisco failed to diagnose.
9. $70.4 to an oil entrepreneur who accused Houston-based Halliburton Energy Services of depriving him of the chance to develop a field in Kazakhstan.
10. $58.6 to a New York teenager who was paralyzed while working as a stunt driver at an amusement park. - Associated Press