Anderson v. Shawn Lanier, Lanier, Inc., and American Family Mutual Insurance Co.
Case name: Anderson v. Shawn Lanier, Lanier, Inc., and American Family Mutual Insurance Co.
Case no: 07-CV-919
Court: Eau Claire County Circuit Court
Judge: Hon. Michael Schumacher
Injuries alleged: Plaintiff claimed soft tissue injuries to the left wrist, shoulder, upper back, a herniated disk at L5-S1, activation of dormant, never treated for, degenerative conditions in his low back, SI joint, and Piriformis Syndrome, causing deep, burning, throbbing, aching pain deep in his right butt cheek, resulting in a right-sided limp, with severe activity limitations. Plaintiff claimed to the jury $50,026 in past medical expenses, $52,000 in future medicals, and past and future pain, suffering, and disability of $300,000-$350,000.
Original amount sought: $200,000
Highest offer: $25,000
Verdict/settlement: Jury returned defense verdict
Disposition date: March 5, 2010
Original filing date: Nov. 27, 2007
Date of incident: Dec. 4, 2004
Insurance company: American Family Mutual Insurance Company
Plaintiff attorney: Timothy J. Aiken, Aiken & Skoptur, Milwaukee and Raymond E. Krek, Krek & Associates SC, Jefferson
Defense attorney: Fred L. Morris, American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Eau Claire
Plaintiff’s experts: Dr. Andrew Floren (occupational medicine), Dr. Melissa Wold (DPT), and Dr. James Klug (DC)
Defense experts: Dr. Gary Wyard (orthopaedic surgeon) and Dr. Leo Bronston (DC)
Defense counsel summary of the facts: On Dec. 2, 2004, at 6 p.m., plaintiff, 51- year-old Dean Anderson, was driving his 1998 Ford Contour north on 4th Street in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, up a steep hill, to a residence three to four houses past the intersection of 4th and Cedar Streets. The intersection of 4th and Cedar is uncontrolled, unlit, with high banks and trees on both sides of 4th Street. The 4th Street hill crests literally at the intersection with Cedar Street.
On Dec. 4, 2004, it was snowing, and the road surface was slippery. Plaintiff had been up the 4th Street hill on one previous occasion when it was slippery, and had slid back down the hill because he wasn't going fast enough.
On Dec. 4, 2004, he testified that he had to maintain the speed limit (25 mph) all the way up the hill to keep from sliding back down. Plaintiff testified that he first saw the 1992 Toyota Previa van, driven by 22-year- old defendant Shawn Lanier in the course of his employment as a Domino's delivery driver, when plaintiff was 2-3 car lengths south of the 4th-Cedar Street intersection, and that the van was 75 yards to his left down Cedar Street, approaching the intersection.
Within that 2-3 car length span before impact, plaintiff not only identified the van as being exactly 75 yards to his left, but also that the van was going too fast, and that it was a pizza delivery van, even though the van had no markings on it.
Defendant Lanier testified that he had delivered a pizza at a house about 1 1/2 blocks west of the 4th-Cedar Streets intersection, had gotten stiffed on the tip, and was headed east on Cedar Street, at about 25 mph, to his next delivery.
Lanier testified that he didn't see the plaintiff vehicle until he was in the intersection, about 10 feet away from it. Both drivers slammed on their brakes, colliding in the SE quadrant of the intersection, defendant's left front end to plaintiff's driver's side front corner. Plaintiff claimed soft tissue injuries to the left wrist, shoulder, upper back, a herniated disk at L5-S1, activation of dormant, never treated for, degenerative conditions in his low back, SI joint, and Piriformis Syndrome, causing deep, burning, throbbing, aching pain deep in his right butt cheek, resulting in a right-sided limp, with severe activity limitations.
On agreement of the parties at pre-trial, the court allowed a jury view of the intersection. On the first morning of trial, plaintiffs' counsel tried unsuccessfully to persuade the court to disallow the jury view.
The jury view was crucial to the defense, because plaintiff had the uncontrolled intersection right-of-way instruction in their favor, as well as a better witness.
The jury view gave the jury a good sense of what a hazard this intersection was, even on a good day. In addition to bringing three live doctors, plaintiff called a Catholic priest, a Methodist minister, five lay before/after and character witnesses.
Defendants successfully attacked the plaintiff's damage case through testimony regarding a pelvic CT and bone scan that had been done, both of which showed bone-on-bone right side hip arthritis, which all of the doctors agreed was unrelated to the car accident.
Defendant's experts, as well as a few notes from non-testifying treaters, also suggested that there was an element of functional overlay to plaintiff's physical complaints.