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American Airlines Hit With $20 Million Verdict In Airport Sign Trial

November 23, 1996

DALLAS (AP) _ Two men badly injured in a car accident they blamed on a huge electronic road sign that provides flight information won a $20 million judgment against American Airlines.

A jury returned the verdict Friday, saying the 1,400-square-foot sign caused the 1993 accident at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport that injured Anwar Soliman and Ralph Roberts, top executives of the California-based Grandy’s restaurant chain.

Their car rear-ended another vehicle that had stopped in a traffic lane so passengers could read the sign, the lawsuit claimed.

Soliman, who was in a coma and on life support for several days, suffered a brain injury and nerve damage. Roberts broke his pelvis and suffered facial disfigurement.

The men said the airline was negligent when it built several of the signs, which provide updated flight information on the main thoroughfare through the airport.

American argued that the signs offer a valuable service and blamed the accident on driver inattention.

``The jury’s decision is clearly wrong and we will vigorously appeal,″ said Mary Frances Fagan, a spokeswoman for American.

The jury said motorist David Sung, who stopped his vehicle in the roadway, also must pay about $5 million to the two men.

By September 1994, when the lawsuit was filed, police had blamed the signs for 12 multiple-car accidents and 13 injuries. Records show that number has since grown to 29 accidents and 22 injuries.

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