Injuries claimed: Permanent neck and back
Court: Racine County Circuit Court
Case name: John H. Anderson vs. Randy Sexton, Cass Trucking, Inc. and West Bend Mutual
Case number: 07-CV-1064
Judge: Emily Mueller
Verdict & settlement: $1,145,000
Original amount sought: $250,000 – $350,000
Original offer: Defendants offered $75,000
Award: Past medical expenses: $45,000; past pain, suffering and disability: $225,000; future medical expense: $100,000; future pain, suffering, and disability: $775,000.
Date of incident: July 13, 2004
Disposition date: Aug. 27, 2008
Original filing date: March 21, 2007
Plaintiff’s attorney (firm): Timothy S. Knurr, Schoone, Leuck, Kelley; Pitts & Knurr, S.C., Racine
Defendants’ attorney (firm): Emily Zapotocny, Jeffrey Leavell, S.C., Racine
Insurance carrier: West Bend Mutual Insurance Company
Plaintiff’s expert witnesses: Dr. Stephen Callaghan: Board Certified Psychiatrist; Dr. Subbanna Jayaprakash: Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist
Defendants’ expert witnesses: Dr. Marc Novom
Noteworthy evidentiary issues: The only noteworthy evidentiary ruling concerned the judge allowing defendants to ask plaintiff if he has ever been convicted of a crime and how many times. That was not well received by the jury.
Plaintiff counsel’s summary of the facts: This matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident which took place on July 13, 2004 wherein John H. Anderson, who was stopped waiting to make a left turn, was rear ended by a 75,000 lb. dump truck traveling at a relatively high rate of speed. He was crushed from behind and pushed into the path of an oncoming vehicle and struck again. The property damage to his vehicle was catastrophic. Though he was removed from the scene on a back board, Anderson did not sustain any broken bones or other internal injuries.
The primary issue involved the fact that several years prior to the motor vehicle accident, Anderson had fallen 15 feet through a hole on a construction site to the concrete below and sustained multiple thoracic and cervical fractures. Anderson candidly conceded from the start of this case that those injuries left him with substantial, permanent, ongoing pain and discomfort concerning which he was taking narcotic pain medicines. (Even on the date of the motor vehicle accident in question).
Despite that fact, within four months of that injury, Anderson was back at work at light duty. Approximately one year later, he was released to return to his construction job, albeit with restrictions.
Plaintiff’s experts testified that this motor vehicle took all those underlying problems and aggravated them to the point where Anderson was totally physically disabled. Anderson had to very carefully maneuver through the evidence that established that, before the motor vehicle accident, he had in fact applied for social security disability and Dr. Callaghan had actually rendered an opinion (from a psychological standpoint) that he was 100 percent disabled. Despite his attempts to achieve a finding of 100 percent of total disability for Social Security purposes, he was denied. It was only after the motor vehicle accident that the Department found him 100 percent disabled and found that the event causing the same was the motor vehicle accident.
Anderson did not bring a wage loss claim or a loss of earning capacity because of the numerous pre-motor vehicle documents, forms, etc. opining 100 percent disability for Social Security purposes. Anderson tried to convince the jury that he had a life before the motor vehicle accident, and now did not and was going to spend the next 40 years of his life in constant chronic pain, taking narcotic pain medications, and engaging in a quality of life that no reasonable plaintiff would trade for any verdict that they might receive in these proceedings. Defense counsel urged the jury to award approximately $45,000. It took the jury exactly 1 hour to return a unanimous verdict finding 100 percent liability on the part of Sexton and $1,145,000 in total damages.
Post-trial motions: Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment on the verdict but the matter was resolved prior to the motion hearing.
Length of trial: 2 days.
Jury or bench: Jury trial