PERSONAL INJURY: $2.2 MILLION
Injuries claimed: Burst fracture of thorasic spine, crushed spinal cord with T-10 and below paraplegia, fractures of left shoulder and multiple ribs, head laceration with head injury
Court: Rock County Circuit Court
Case name: Lori Cornue-Owens, et al. vs. Northland Transportation, et al.
Case number: 06 CV 26
Judge: James Welker
Verdict & settlement: Settled prior to trial
Original amount sought: All arguably available insurance: $3 million
Original offer: settled
Award: Settlement totaled $2,185,000 with payments as follows: $1,250,000 from Truck owner’s primary and umbrella coverage(limits); $10,000 from truck owner personally; $525,000 from driver’s trucking Company MCS-90 coverage (of 750,000 limit); $400,000 from General Contractor auto policy (of $1M limit): Mercycare Insurance waived subrogation for medical bills.
Date of incident: Sept. 19, 2005
Disposition date: Feb. 10, 2009
Original filing date: Jan. 6, 2006
Plaintiffs attorney (firm): James D. Wickhem, Meier, Wickhem, Lyons & Schulz, Janesville
Defendants attorney (firm): 24 separate defense attorneys appeared — see CCAP Insurance carrier: Country Mutual, First Financial, West Bend Mutual
Plaintiffs expert witnesses: Robert Krenz, engineer; Robert Taylor, life care planner; Cynthia Engebose, vocational; Thomas Berentsen MD, neurologist; Karl Egge PHD, economist
Defendants expert witnesses: Don Marty, engineer; Dr. Mark Novum, defense doctor; Kevin Schulz, vocational
Plaintiff counsel’s summary of the facts: An Illinois dump truck slammed into the rear of Owen’s minivan as she was about to turn left exiting a highway to go to her job. Defense made a claim of contributory negligence alleging failure to signal turn. The collision demolished Owen’s vehicle, broke her back, and rendered her paraplegic. The Illinois truck was on a pit run to pick up gravel for a Wisconsin subdivision job being run by an Illinois contractor. The Illinois contractor (Go Excavating) had hired two Illinois trucking outfits to haul gravel. Northland (one of the trucking companies) borrowed the accident truck from the other trucking company (Kampen Farms). Northland put its own part-time driver in the accident truck. All the trucks from both companies came to Wisconsin from Illinois to haul gravel on the day of the accident. The case involved numerous insurance coverage issues on over a dozen or more insurance policies. The issues included “temporary substitute auto,” “hired auto,” “borrowed employee,” gainful employment exclusion, MCS-90: Interstate trucking, right of recoupment under MCS-90, joint venture and rental exclusion, duty to defend, judicial estoppel among others. The case generated eight summary judgement motions, 24 discovery depositions on coverage and two separate settlements, the last one after mediation.