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Whirlpool Settles $581 Million Verdict Out of Court
By Ashley Estes   Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The family that sued Whirlpool Corp. in a $1,200 dispute over a satellite dish and was awarded $581 million by a jury has settled the case out of court. Terms were not disclosed.

The verdict in May 1999 prompted the Legislature to put caps on punitive damage awards in Alabama and prompted criticism of large jury awards.

The settlement was disclosed Tuesday by The Montgomery Advertiser. Attorney Tom Methvin, who represented the family, confirmed a settlement but wouldn't disclose details. Neither would Whirlpool's attorney, Bob Spotswood.

A Hale County judge last year trimmed the punitive damages to $300 million, a decision Whirlpool was appealing when it settled with Barbara Carlisle and her parents, George and Velma Merriweather, in December.

Carlisle and her parents sued Whirlpool and Gulf Coast Electronics, contending the companies tried to gouge them out of $1,200 on the sale of two $1,100 satellite dishes in 1995. They dropped their claims against Gulf Coast Electronics as part of the settlement.

Whirlpool has also settled lawsuits in similar satellite dish disputes with 40 other Alabama families and 10 families in Mississippi, the attorneys said.

The original jury, Methvin said, "wanted to draw national attention to what's become more and more of a problem. Some segments of corporate America are coming into the living rooms of some of the most vulnerable people in America and taking advantage of them."

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