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U.S. judge loses bid for new trial

A Superior Court judge has denied a motion for a new trial by a federal judge who unsuccessfully sought $21 million in damages after he allegedly was injured by a malfunctioning escalator.

U.S. District Judge George P. Schiavelli had filed a lawsuit after alleging that the escalator at the Encino Place shopping center abruptly stopped in August 2005, knocking him down the stairs and causing permanent injuries.

A Van Nuys jury ruled against the federal judge after deliberating about two hours in February. After the decision, Schiavelli’s attorney said the jury was biased against his client because of his position on the federal bench and requested a new trial.

Attorney Russell S. Wollman, who represents the management company operating the shopping center, said Tuesday that the decision by Judge Leon S. Kaplan affirmed that the jury considered the facts of the case and nothing else. Kaplan entered his decision Monday, stating that the “defendant presented substantial evidence to support the verdict.”

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