RECENT TRIALS

Case Caption: Judith Dabbs v Sergio Gonzalez & Laprieta Trucking, Case No.: 10-CI-0005,Williams County Common Pleas Court, State of Ohio, 4-day jury trial

Verdict: $16,500

Judge: J.T. Stelzer

Date of Verdict: 03/01/2012

Attorneys:

Plaintiff: Joseph W. Westmeyer, Jr., Toledo, OH

Joseph W. Westmeyer, III, Toledo, OH

Defendant: Russell W. Porritt II, Toledo, OH

Facts: A motor vehicle accident occurred beyond the toll booth of the Ohio Turnpike in Bryan, Ohio on March 1, 2007. It was raining when Defendant Sergio Gonzalez, employed by Laprieta Trucking, had pulled over and was parked, looking over his log book. His tractor was running when his vehicle rolled forward and struck the back of a van in which Judith Dabbs was the passenger. The van was pushed forward, leaving the vehicle disabled. A broken axle was later produced by the tow company which brought the van in for repair.

The day of the accident plaintiff went to the emergency room with pain in the mid lumbar and thoracic spine. CT's conducted at the emergency room showed generalized degenerative changes throughout the spine. ER Dr. Pappas, gave a diagnosis of acute mid thoracic and lumbosacral paravertebral muscle strain. Plaintiff had a history of spinal arthritis and pre-accident records showed plaintiff experiencing frequent low back pain including sciatica.

Weeks after the accident plaintiff complained of pain in her head, neck, mid back, low back and right thigh with long periods of sitting causing flair ups. She saw Dr. Szymanski a neurosurgeon for her back pain, bilateral leg pain and numbness. He could not truly pinpoint whether the accident was the cause of her pain in light of her history of back pain. Plaintiff eventually sought treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gottlieb. PT was prescribed along with epidural injections at Pain Management Group. Dr. Gottlieb eventually performed two lumbar surgeries on Plaintiff, which included an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, insertion of intervertebral biomechanical devices, anterior plate fixation, and structure allograft. Plaintiff incurred a total of $431,382.87 in medical expenses.

Plaintiff claimed her injuries were continuing to worsen. Defendant Sergio Gonzalez was generally uncooperative, then failed to appear at trial. Negligent driving was not disputed at trial, but the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries, if any, and damages were.

A high-low agreement of $350,000/$25,000 was reached before the trial.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff was an unemployed 44-year-old female on psychiatric and emotional disability at the time of the MVA.

Alleged Injury: Pain in the mid lumbar and thoracic spine, painful back flair ups, worsening back pain, right anterior thigh tingling, continuing disability and limitations.

Settlement Efforts: Last Demand: $1,500,000

Last Offer: $7,500

Insurance Carrier: Canal Insurance Company

Case Status: The negotiated low of $25,000 was paid and the case is closed.

 


Case Caption: Pamela Lemmer, Personal Representative of the Estate of Jeff Deising, deceased v Transport Repair Services, Inc. and RZ Properties, LLC, Case No. 2009-11988-NO, In The Kent County Circuit Court, State of Michigan

Verdict: No cause/Defense verdict

Judge: Mark A. Trusock

Date of Vedict: 1/24/2011

Attorneys:

Plaintiff: John W. Knight, White Lake

John C. Kaplansky, Bingham Farms

Defendant: Russell W. Porritt II, Bloomfield Hills

Wendy C. Johnson, Toledo, OH

Facts: A worker fell to his death when the roof he was repairing gave way. His estate sought damages from the premises owner, the lessee of the premises. The defendants denied liability. A Kent County jury returned a verdict of no cause for action in the case.

Defendant RZ Properties owned realestate in Grand Rapids that was leased to Defendant Transport Repair Services, Inc., which ran a truck maintenance and repair facility at thelocation. In 2007, a leak was discovered in one of the buildings on the property. Weather Shield Roofing System was called to provide an estimate for repairs. WeatherShield conducted an initial inspection and then sent another representative to take core samples by drilling holes in the roof to further evaluate the extent of repairs. RZ Properties then contracted with Weather Shield on behalf of Transport Repair to perform the repairs.

Plaintiff’s decedent, Jeff Deising, was a temporary worker assigned to work at Weather Shield. On Deising's first day of work and while under Weather Shield's supervision, he was walking on the roof when it gave way. He fell through the roof and sustained fatal injuries.

Plaintiff’s alleged that defendants failed to maintain the roof in a reasonably safe condition and/or warn Deising of the dangerous condition of the roof deck. Plaintiff argued that defendants knew or should have known the deck was hazardous since an evaluation of the roof was conducted.

Defendants denied notice that the roof deck was in a state of disrepair. They argued that they were unaware of any roof hazards prior to Deising's fall. RZ Properties stated that it relied on Weather Shield to properly identify the problem and the necessary repairs which would be required to fix the leak.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff's decedent was a 40-year-old male who worked as a roofer at the time of this accident.

Alleged Injury: Blunt force trauma, resulting in death several weeks after the fall.

Case Evaluation Award: $400,000

Settlement Efforts:Last Demand: $800,000

Last Offer: $50,000

Insurance Carrier: Colony Specialty Group

Case Status: Plaintiff’s Estate has filed an appeal. Which was denied. Case is closed.

Portions of the above trial summaries from Michigan Lawyers Weekly and The Michigan Trial Reporter.

 


Case Caption: Ronald Osterhout and Stephanie Osterhout v Brandon Michael Woodley and The Sygma Network, Inc., Case No. 07-24204-NI, In The Monroe County Circuit Court, State of Michigan

Verdict: $300,000.

Judge: Joseph A. Costello, Jr.

Date of Vedict: 3/21/2011

Attorneys:

Plaintiff: Edmund O. Battersby, of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, Farmington Hills

Samuel I. Bernstein, Farmington Hills

Defendant: Russell W. Porritt II, Bloomfield Hills

Wendy C. Johnson, Toledo, OH

Facts: Two tractor-trailers were involved in a rear-end collision that allegedly resulted in disabling injuries to the plaintiff. The defendants disputed causation and serious impairment. A Monroe County jury returned a $300,000 verdict for plaintiff; the plaintiff was entitled to $400,000 pursuant to a high/low agreement reached before trial.

Plaintiff Ronald Osterhout was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 24. Defendant Brandon Woodley was operating another tractor-trailer owned by Defendant The Sygma Network, Inc. and was travelling behind Plaintiff. Woodley rear-ended plaintiff. Defendants admitted liability.

Plaintiff alleged that he sustained serious back injury and never returned to work. He required two separate fusion surgeries. He was ultimately diagnosed with failed back syndrome and was disabled from working as a truck driver. Plaintiff claimed he may have had pre-existing physical complaints, but none of the prior injuries disabled him from working or caused his need for surgery. Plaintiff argued that this impact caused a serious back injury that constituted a serious impairment of body function, which prevented him from working.

Defendants contended that plaintiff had prior shoulder, lower back, wrist and knee problems, including significant arthritis and degeneration in both shoulders. Defendants asserted that plaintiff treated for lower back complaints with radiating pain and a diagnosis of left sciatica more than two months prior to this accident. Defendants argued that this accident did not cause plaintiff's injuries and any injuries plaintiff did sustain did not constitute a serious impairment of body function.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff was a 59-year-old married male who was a truck driver.

Alleged Injury: Grade I spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 and L2-L3. Plaintiff underwent two separate surgical fusions and was diagnosed with failed back syndrome. He was unable to return to work and placed on Social Security Disability. Plaintiff sought excess wage loss and non-economic damages.

Case Evaluation Award: $675,000

Settlement Efforts: Last Demand: $850,000

Last Offer: $300,000

Insurance Carrier: Self-insured

Expert(s):

Plaintiff: Ernest Chiodo, M.D., Biomedical Engineer

and medical doctor.

Jeffrey Couturier, D.O. Emergency Medicine

Joseph S. Yazdi, M.D. Neurosurgeon

Dr. Robert Shugart Orthopedic Surgeon

Thomas R. Keucher, M.D. Neurosurgeon

Kiran Tamirisa, M.D. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Keith Lehman, M.D. Internal Medicine

Robert Ancell, Ph.D. Vocational Rehabilitation

Defendant: John F. Wiechel, Ph.D., Biomechanical Engineer

Daniel J. McKernan, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon

Case status: Case closed.

Portions of the above trial summaries from Michigan Lawyers Weekly and The Michigan Trial Reporter.

 


 

Case Caption: Lynette M. Daly and Michael Daly, v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Nick & Jimmy’s Bar & Grill, Debra G Inc. and Ernest J. Johnson, Case No. CI-08-6119, In The Court of Common Pleas Lucas County, State of Ohio

Verdict: Defense verdict

Judge: Ruth Ann Franks

Date of Verdict: 12/16/09

Attorneys:

Plaintiff: D. Lee Johnson, Toledo, OH

Jared M. Schmidt, Toledo, OH

Defendant:Russell W. Porritt II, Toledo, OH for Ernie Johnson

John Kuhl, Toledo, OH for Nick & Jimmy's

Facts: Defendant Ernest (“Ernie”) J. Johnson, was employed as a bartender at Nick & Jimmy’s. Everyone knew Ernie had no driver’s license due to a drinking and driving conviction. Nonetheless, one of the bar owners often let him drive his Nissan pickup truck.

On the day of the MVA, Ernie had been drinking excessively at the bar while not working. He took the keys to the Nissan without asking and left the premises in the Nissan. Johnson rearended Plaintiffs van causing damage to the Nissans bumper with minor damage to Plaintiffs Caravan. Johnson fled the scene.

Plaintiff’s vehicle was drivable as she drove to the police station to make out a report. The next day she went to the urgent care clinic with pain in her joints and low back pain, the doctor put a cast on her thumb with concern of it being broken, but it was not. Plaintiff eventually saw Drs.Sullivan, James and Bassett where x-rays and MRI’s were conducted concerning her continuing complaints of pain. She also treated with a Chiropractor, Mickey Frame, on a regular basis.

Ernie fled the state of Ohio, did not cooperate in his defense and did not appear at trial. No proofs were presented in defense of negligent driving on his part, and PA obtained an anticipated directed verdict in this regard. The case was defended on the basis that the collision was so minor Plaintiff had not been injured or, if she was, the injuries were so minor that she had recovered within just a few days of the MVA. She admitted to going to Pilates classes five days post-MVA, but claimed her neck and back bothered her. She claimed she continued to suffer from pain and problems from the accident. Chiropractor Frame testified live at trial in support of her injuries and treatment.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff was a women married to a police officer driving a Caravan during time of accident.

Alleged Injury:Soft tissue neck and back pain, left shoulder pain, and injured thumb requiring a spica case. Plaintiff had $25,000 in medical and chiropractic bills.

Settlement Efforts:Last Demand: $50,000

Last Offer: $5,000

Insurance Carrier: Auto-Owners Insurance Company

Case Status: Case Closed