VALPARAISO | The juries are in, and there is good news for several local attorneys.

Kenneth J. Allen once again has been recognized as tops in the state when it comes to million-dollar jury verdicts, according to the 2004 Year in Review of The Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter.

Gregory Sarkisian, of Portage, and Kristin Hill and Barry Sherman, of Hammond, had victories of their own last year, which further distinguished them among 17 attorneys statewide to win multiple auto negligence verdicts of $100,000 or more.

The Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter compiles statistics on jury verdicts on a monthly and annual basis for insurance companies and attorneys, Editor Shannon Ragland said.

The publication began its efforts in Indiana in 2000, and Allen immediately took top honors in the state by winning three of the 10 jury verdicts totaling $1 million or more that year.

Allen, who has offices in Valparaiso, Merrillville and Homewood, further set himself apart from his peers last year with two multimillion jury verdicts, bringing his total through 2004 to seven. He won a $16 million medical negligence suit in Lake County and a $9 million negligence suit in Porter County, according to the jury report.

Already this year, he won a $1.8 million verdict in Lake County and reached a $6.8 million settlement in Illinois.

Allen said he stands out among his peers because he believes in what he is doing and jurors pick up on that sincerity.

He defended the large jury verdicts as appropriate in helping individuals cover their health care costs following an accident.

The verdicts also benefit society, he said, by encouraging changes that lead to greater safety for all. He cited examples such as the creation of three-point seat belts.

A law career is not charity work, however, and Allen said attorneys typically receive about one-third of each verdict. But he downplayed the importance of the compensation, saying he enjoys making a difference.

Sarkisian, who won a $250,000 jury verdict in an automobile accident case last year in Porter County, also stood behind the value of larger jury verdicts.

The money is not exorbitant when you consider someone facing $35,000 in medical bills stemming from an accident, as well as ongoing health problems.

"When you're 35 years old and have that to look forward to for the next 45 years, you have a loss of enjoyment of life," Sarkisian said.

Attorneys have to be careful, however, not to ask for too much money, he said. If jurors sense an attorney is being greedy, they will often punish a client with a small verdict.

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