Garcia v. Branco Lath & Stucco
Congratulations John Daly and Jennifer Hoge, who obtained summary judgment on behalf of Defendants, Michael Branco and Branco Lath & Stucco.
The case arose from an incident that occurred on that was managed by Mr. Branco and owned by his brother. Mr. Branco’s duties included performing improvements to the property. Mr. Branco hired a subcontractor which employed plaintiff to fortify a fence. In the course of performing this work, plaintiff stepped in a hole and suffered a compound leg. Plaintiff required multiple surgeries due to infections of the site. After receiving workers’ compensation benefits, plaintiff brought suit against Mr. Branco and Branco Lath & Stucco for negligent property maintenance. Defense raised the issue of workers’ compensation immunity, claiming that plaintiff could not bring action against the same person and entity. Plaintiff took the position that Mr. Branco and his company were liable not as employers, but as property owners and also argued that the defendants were not contractors and therefore were not immune from suit. Plaintiff contended that if workers’ compensation immunity applied, it did not extend to Mr. Branco individually.
Judge Helms held that Plaintiff had elected workers’ compensation as his remedy and had not pled any exception to overcome exclusivity. Both Branco Lath & Stucco and Michael Branco were granted summary judgment.
Verdict Date: December 05, 2016
McCormack v. Perkins & Marie Callendar’s LLC
Congratulations John Daly and Sean Crocker for obtaining a defense verdict on behalf of Perkins & Marie Callendar’s, LLC.
Plaintiff slipped on a wet floor in the restaurant lobby. Plaintiff acknowledged that at the time of the accident, a Perkins employee was mopping the floor. Plaintiff argued the employee was far away from the area where she fell and disputed the placement of the wet floor sign. Plaintiff claimed injuries to both knees which required two surgeries and put forth evidence that Perkins had failed to retain the store surveillance footage which would have captured the incident and was able to obtain an adverse inference jury instruction. In closing, Plaintiff requested $280,000 in medical expenses, $100,000 and an unspecific amount for pain and suffering.
The jury deliberated for one hour, 22 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of Perkins.
Verdict Date: November 16, 2016
Bollo v. Matracea
Congratulations Vance Dawson and Michael Woodard for obtaining a defense verdict for in behalf of State Farm Insurance Company.
Plaintiff’s alleged injuries included torn tendons in the shoulder, a rotator cuff injury and a C6-7 herniated disc. Plaintiff further alleged that he had no prior injuries to either his neck or shoulder before the accident. At trial, Plaintiff testified that his shoulder pain slowly got worse and he sought treatment six days after the accident because he was unable to move his arm. Plaintiff subsequently treated with an orthopedic surgeon and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his shoulder. The surgeon testified that the accident caused Plaintiff’s injuries based on a lack of documented complaints prior to the accident. Plaintiff also called the treating radiologist who also testified that the shoulder injuries were likely related to the subject accident. The defense focused on the fact that Plaintiff delayed seeking treatment for any injury until six days after the accident and did not have any complaints of bruising, swelling or decreased range of motion in his shoulder or neck pain at that time. MRIs taken nine days after the accident indicated that Plaintiff had pre-existing chronic degenerative conditions. Defense experts opined that the injuries could be attributed the degenerative disease and abnormal anatomy and that the charges for the arthroscopic surgery were substantially overbilled.
At the close, the court granted Defendant’s motion for directed verdict regarding future medical expenses. The Jury deliberated for 2 hours, 27 minutes before returning a complete defense verdict.
Verdict Date: October 27, 2016
Williams v. Orlando Health, Inc.
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Jeremy Palma for obtaining a defense verdict for Orlando Health in a case arising out of a slip and fall at a women’s bathroom at Dr. Phillips Hospital.
Plaintiff claimed that she suffered herniated discs and a torn rotator cuff. In her deposition, Plaintiff claimed that a janitor approached her and told her that there had been an ongoing problem with the toilets and water spraying onto the floor of the bathroom. Plaintiff was unable to say there was water on the floor at her deposition. A month after her deposition she prepared an errata sheet where she changed her testimony to add the presence of water, thereby precluding a summary judgment. Plaintiff incurred $600,000 in past medical expenses, $500,000 in future medical expenses, and $500,000 in pain and suffering.
The jury deliberated for 58 minutes before returning a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: September 23, 2016
Edenfield v. Seminole County Board of County Commissioners
Congratulations Bowie Kuhn for obtaining a defense verdict in the Edenfield matter.
The case involved an incident wherein plaintiff rode his bike into a collapsed sidewalk. Mr. Edenfield alleged injuries to his mid and low back, right foot and right wrist and that the County was negligent in failing to maintain the sidewalk and warn of the danger. The County’s position was that the collapse occurred just a few hours before the incident based upon the testimony of a witness. Plaintiff asked the jury to award approximately $150,000.
The jury was out 1 hour and 40 minutes before returning a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: September 21, 2016
Rojas v. MacMorris
Congratulations Dean Hewitt and Jeremy Palma for obtaining a favorable verdict for Edna and John MacMorris in the Rojas trial which arose out of a rear-end motor vehicle accident.
The accident involved two vehicles. Ms. Rojas was slowing down her vehicle for a red light when the rear-end impact occurred. Ms. MacMorris failed to bring her vehicle to a stop behind the Rojas vehicle causing significant. The defense admitted negligence prior to trial. Plaintiff claimed to have sustained herniations at C5-6 and L5-S1 which necessitated surgery. A lumbar discectomy was performed. A cervical rhizotomy was later performed as well as a lumbar fusion. In closing, plaintiff requested a total of $2,119,270.69 for past and future medical expenses, wages, and pain and suffering.
The jury deliberated 2 hours and 59 minutes before returning a verdict awarding $6,746.70. That was the exact amount the defense requested the jury award for temporary soft tissue injuries that should have resolved within 6 to 12 weeks.
Verdict Date: September 02, 2016
TRUONG v. Waste Services of Florida, Inc. & William Bocker
Congratulations Dick Womble and Juan Ruiz who obtained a defense verdict for Waste Services and William Bocker. The case arose out of an accident involving a truck and a bicycle.
The accident occurred when William Bocker was driving a garbage truck for Waste Services eastbound in the right lane. He stopped at a stop light behind two other vehicles. Immediately to his right was a paved shoulder 6 feet wide which ended 15 feet before the intersection leaving an 18 inch wide gutter between the curb and the white fog line. Mr. Bocker was using the right turn signal and checked his side mirrors. He did not see Mr. Truong who was riding his bicycle east on the shoulder. As the light turned green, plaintiff rode his bike down the side of the truck. When Mr. Truong reached the end of the shoulder, he did not yield. As Mr. Bocker continued his right turn, Mr. Truong was dragged under the right rear wheels of the truck. Mr. Truong sustained multiple injuries to his neck, legs, hips, and fingers and endured 20 surgeries and 150 days of hospitalization. Plaintiff requested a jury award in excess of $15,000,000 for past and future medical expenses, earnings, and pain and suffering. Plaintiff argued he was entitled to an adverse inference jury instruction based on its claim that Waste Services destroyed the drive cam video. Defense proved that there was not a triggering event as there was not enough force to engage the drive cam and Plaintiff’s request was denied.
The jury deliberated for 1 hour, 25 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of the defendants.
Verdict Date: August 03, 2016
Marcantonio v. Bluhm
Congratulations Vance Dawson and Juan Ruiz for obtaining an extremely favorable verdict in the Marcantonio case for Craig Bluhm on behalf of State Farm Insurance Company.
The litigation arose out of the rear end collision causing less than $1000 damage to Plaintiff’s vehicle. As a result of the crash, plaintiff claimed he had as many as nine herniations in his cervical and lumbar spine. He underwent a three level cervical fusion and claimed that as a result of this accident and his ensuing workers’ compensation claim he was fired by his employer. At trial plaintiff requested past and future medical expenses as well as lost wages and earning capacity totaling 1,340,000
The jury deliberated for 2 hours and 30 minutes before returning a verdict of $10,970, a figure representing the diagnostic testing and conservative treatment before surgical consultation.
Verdict Date: May 06, 2016
Ali v. Timmons
Congratulations Vance Dawson and Jeremy Palma for obtaining a defense verdict for Gregory and Mitchell Timmons in the Ali trial which involved an alleged multiple vehicle accident.
Ms. Ali was traveling in the left lane and brought her vehicle to a complete stop behind a disabled vehicle. Ms. Ali claimed that she was rear-ended by a truck driven by Gregory Timmons and that Mr. Timmons fled from the scene after the accident. Mr. Timmons claimed that he was not involved in the accident but conceded that he was in the area at the time. He claimed that another vehicle was traveling directly in front of him and stopped suddenly. Mr. Timmons brought his vehicle to a complete stop and then observed the other vehicle merge into the middle lane and pass Ms. Ali. The driver of the merging vehicle was never identified. Plaintiff claimed to have sustained a disc herniation which necessitated surgery. Plaintiff had complications following the surgery and underwent a second fusion. In closing, Plaintiff requested $641,878 in past medical expenses and $16,916 in past wage loss.
The jury deliberated 1 hour, 7 minutes before returning a defense verdict finding that there was no negligence on the part of Gregory Timmons that was the legal cause of any injury to Ms. Ali.
Verdict Date: April 29, 2016
Student v. Charter School
Congratulations Bryan Snyder and Greg Giannuzzi for obtaining a dismissal of a federal discrimination case for a Charter School, School Board and the Principal and Teacher, in behalf of Philadelphia Insurance Company.
Plaintiff had alleged that his minor son was discriminated against by the Teacher and Principal based on his race and/or ethnicity. He claimed that the student was not allowed to go to the bathroom in an emergency situation while non-minority students were allowed to leave the classroom. He further alleged that the Student was called a “troublemaker,” was threatened with if he refused to sign a disciplinary form, and disproportionately punished. Plaintiff also claimed that the punishment was reduced only after plaintiff informed the Principal that non-minority students punished differently and that the Student Code of Conduct had been violated. He also alleged that the student was not allowed the opportunity to participate in the NHS induction ceremony, damaging the student’s academic reputation. Plaintiff’s causes of action included violations of Title VI, disparate treatment, failure to supervise the conduct of its employees against the School, violations of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, and state law claims against the School Board. Defendants moved to dismiss each count for several reasons, including lack of standing and failure to allege the essential elements of each claim.
The U.S. District Court dismissed all of the federal law claims with prejudice, held that the Plaintiff lacked standing to assert Section 1983 claims on behalf of his son, dismissed the Title VI claims, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims. The Deputy Clerk for the U.S. District Court entered a Final Judgment in favor of all Defendants and against Plaintiff.
Verdict Date: April 08, 2016
Skahen v. Wise
Congratulations Vance Dawson and Jeremy Palma for obtaining a defense verdict for Mazie Wise in a rear end motor vehicle case involving four vehicles.
Ms. Skahen was traveling in the right turn lane and brought her vehicle to a complete stop. Immediately behind Ms. Skahen were two other vehicles followed by Ms. Wise. Ms. Wise failed to bring her vehicle to a complete stop. The impact forced each vehicle into the vehicle in front of it. The defense admitted negligence prior to trial. Plaintiff claimed to have sustained disc herniation which necessitated surgery. Plaintiff previously never complained of neck pain and no imaging studies were obtained prior to the accident. In closing, Plaintiff requested the jury award $517,000 in total.
The jury deliberated 31 minutes before returning a defense verdict finding that the negligence of Ms. Wise was not the legal cause of any injury to Ms. Skahen.
Verdict Date: March 18, 2016
LeCount v. Health First
Congratulations Howard Citron in obtaining final summary judgment on behalf of Health First, Viera Hospital and Dr. Bradley Barnes. The motion for final summary judgment was strongly contested in that it sought the dismissal of medical negligence claims against the hospital and a radiologist for care related to a head and eye injury due to the plaintiff’s failure to timely initiate the lawsuit and failure to provide the requisite pre-suit corroborating expert affidavit.
Verdict Date: March 09, 2016
Schwartz v. Tak
Congratulations Skip Jewett and Karissa Owens in obtaining a defense verdict on behalf of Dr. Ravindra Tak, Physician Associates LLC and The Doctors Company. The medical negligence claim was based on care rendered by Dr. Tak.
Plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Tak negligently prescribed an antibiotic, Cipro, when the patient had symptoms consistent with c. difficile colitis. The Cipro was prescribed to treat a suspected but undocumented bacterial infection. The defense argued that the patient's brief clinical improvement after the Cipro was given was inconsistent with c.diff as the cause of the presenting complaints and that the Cipro was appropriate to treat the infection. The patient returned to the defendant 's office twice with ongoing complaints before admission to the hospital. Three days after admission, the plaintiff underwent a subtotal colectomy and ileostomy that could not have reversed. The treating physicians diagnosed the patient with toxic colitis caused by c.diff. Plaintiffs asked for an award of $3.17 million during closing.
After a 7 day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.
Verdict Date: February 16, 2016
Centonze v. Cook
Congratulations Richard Mangan and Bryan Snyder in obtaining a defense verdict on behalf of Dr. Jennifer Cook, Florida Joint Care Institute LLP, and The Doctors Company in the Centonze v. Cook matter.
The plaintiff, who fell off a ladder and suffered a significant elbow fracture, presented to Dr. Cook and underwent an open reduction internal fixation (“ORIF”). Plaintiff alleged that Dr. Cook negligently performed the procedure causing a permanent injury which left plaintiff completely unable to move her fingers and wrist. The defense conceded that the plaintiff was injured during the procedure but argued that nerve injury is a known complication. The defense argued the plaintiff had been fully informed of the potential risks and that Dr. Cook took reasonable precautions to minimize the risk of nerve injury. The Plaintiff’s injury necessitated a second surgery with a different surgeon. Plaintiff testified that, although she had made some improvements, she continued to experience significant residual effects of the nerve injury. The defense argued that the second surgery greatly improved her nerve function and that she had experienced a return to reasonable function one and half years after the repair surgery. Plaintiff asked for an award of $583,000 in closing argument.
After deliberating for approximately 55 minutes, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.
Verdict Date: February 08, 2016
Hess v. Hunkar-Huie
Congratulations to Bucky Hurt and Skip Jewett for obtaining a defense verdict for Ann Hunkar-Huie, ARNP and Cardiac Care Specialists (CCS). The case was tried in Orange County circuit court before the Honorable John Kest. The insurer was TDC.
This was a medical malpractice case that arose out of the death of David Hess on September 22, 2006. Plaintiff claimed that Ms. Hunkar-Huie, a nurse practitioner (NP) with CCS, had negligently failed to suspect during a September 21, 2006 visit that Mr. Hess was suffering from a pulmonary embolic (PE) event and had negligently failed to order the appropriate work-up and treatment that would have saved his life.
Mr. Hess was 58 years old at the time and had been a patient of CCS for about three weeks. He had been seen on September 5, 2006 by Dr. Alperovich, a cardiologist, for an initial visit.
There were two important aspects to Mr. Hess’ prior health history. First, in December 1982, Mr. Hess had suffered a major PE event following surgery for a ruptured appendix. This resulted in open chest surgery to remove the major clots from his pulmonary arteries.
Additionally, a clip was placed across his inferior vena cava (IVC) to prevent any future clots from traveling from the deep leg and pelvic veins to the lungs. The long term effect of the clip on Mr. Hess was impaired venous return from the legs and pelvis to the heart. This increased his risk for future deep vein thrombosis (DVT) formation and emboli.
The second significant health issue was that Mr. Hess had uncontrolled hypertension for many years preceding September 2006 and had not been on BP medication for at least six years as of the September 5, 2006 visit.
Dr. Alperovich ordered BP medication, an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. Mr. Hess underwent the stress test as scheduled on September 15, 2006. Plaintiff’s experts were under the mistaken belief that during the test, an IV catheter had been in a vein in the back of Mr. Hess’ right hand for up to six hours. However, the documentary evidence in the CCS chart was that the IV catheter was only in place for 15 minutes and had been placed in the right antecubital fossa (inside the elbow).
Mrs. Hess testified that on Friday night, September 15, 2006, Mr. Hess began to be more tired than previously and that his right hand had begun to swell. Over the weekend, he became “extremely fatigued.” By Monday, September 18, 2006, the swelling had extended up to the elbow. Mr. Hess went to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (September 18 - 20, 2006), but he reportedly continued to be extremely fatigued.
On the morning of Thursday, September 21, 2006, both Mr. Hess and Mrs. Hess decided that Mr. Hess would not go to work so that he could be seen at CCS. Ms. Hunkar-Huie testified that after she introduced herself and shook Mr. Hess’ right hand, she asked him whether he had chest pain, shortness of breath or heart palpitations.
Mr. Hess denied he had shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations. His only complaint was extreme fatigue. He did not complain of swelling of his right arm. Ms. Hunkar-Huie observed the right hand and arm when she shook Mr. Hess’ right hand and when she took his pulse. She did not see any swelling. Ms. Hunkar-Huie told Mr. Hess his fatigue was probably due to the significant drop in his BP since starting the BP medication. His BP that day was 110/70, which was down from 168/104 on September 5, 2006.
Mr. Hess went home and collapsed later that evening at about 12:30 a.m. He never regained consciousness.
A limited autopsy showed extensive PE in Mr. Hess’ lungs, both in the peripheral vessels and main pulmonary arteries. The parties’ experts (including the retained pathologists) essentially agreed that Mr. Hess had begun showering smaller PE between 24 to 48 hours before his death and that the fatal event was due to large PE lodging in the main pulmonary arteries immediately before his collapse.
Plaintiff’s experts argued that all of the PE, including the fatal PE, originated in the right arm. They claimed that the IV catheter placed on September 15, 2006 had triggered a hypercoaguable state and that Mr. Hess had started clotting in the small peripheral hand vein. This thrombosis then extended up his arm veins over the next six days and PE began showering 48 hours before death.
Plaintiff’s experts argued that the arm swelling was a red flag that Ms. Hunkar-Huie should have recognized as a potentially catastrophic thrombotic event given Mr. Hess’ prior history of PE. As a result, she should have ordered a work-up that would have led to a PE diagnosis and treatment before the fatal PE event just before 12:30 a.m. on September 22, 2006.
In addition to arguing that there was no significant arm swelling, the defense showed through plaintiff’s five experts on cross examination and the defense five experts on direct examination that it was impossible for a small IV catheter in the hand or arm to have caused a fatal PE event. All of plaintiff’s five experts conceded that they had never seen nor heard of it.
Further, since Mr. Hess denied the two most common symptoms of PE (shortness of breath and chest pain), it was reasonable for Ms. Hunkar-Huie to have not suspected a pending PE catastrophe when she saw him on September 21, 2006. Instead, it was reasonable for her to attribute Mr. Hess’ fatigue to his drop in BP.
The trial lasted 14 days. Plaintiff asked for $6,534,876 in closing. The jury deliberated 6 hours, 34 minutes before returning a complete defense verdict for Ms. Hunkar-Huie and CCS.
Verdict Date: January 22, 2016