Grapski vs. Osceola Regional Medical Center
Congratulations Bucky Hurt and Jeremy Palma for obtaining a defense verdict for Osceola Regional Medical Center in behalf of HCI. The trial lasted 11 days. Plaintiff claimed that nurse Veena Taggar deviated from the standard of care in failing to monitor an 82 year old high fall risk patient on a bedside commode. Plaintiff claims that the nurse should have remained within arm’s length of the patient and kept the patient within her line of sight. Plaintiff fell from the commode and sustained a cervical spine injury resulting in central cord syndrome. This essentially paralyzed his right arm. Following the fall, plaintiff was admitted to inpatient rehabilitation for 9 months. The plaintiff called 27 witnesses to trial, 13 of which were depositions read to the jury. The defense called two witnesses to trial, Ms. Taggar and our nursing standard of care expert. Plaintiff requested $2,170,239.97 for past medical expenses, $1,815,915 for future medical expenses and $800,000 for pain and suffering, a total of $4,786,154.97. The jury deliberated 3 hours, 8 minutes and returned a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: December 17, 2018
Guillen v. Vang
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a directed verdict for Mai So Vang and Yang Xiong on behalf of State Farm. The case arose out of a 2002 T-bone collision that occurred while Plaintiff, Jose Guillen, was on duty as a recruiter with the United States Marine Corps. There was no medical treatment at the time of the accident. Approximately 1 year later, Plaintiff treated for right wrist and knee pain and eventually underwent wrist carpal tunnel decompression surgery and knee arthroscopy. Plaintiff retired from the Marine Corps in 2004 at the rank of E-8. Plaintiff withdrew his claims for pain and suffering and medical bills prior to trial. At trial, Plaintiff alleged that he was forced to retire prematurely because he knew he would be unable to pass the physical fitness test as a result of injuring his wrist and knee in the accident. Plaintiff contended he would have been promoted to the rank of E-9 and claimed $750,000 in damages at trial, the amount of the lifetime difference between his current retirement benefits and the benefits he would have received had he been promoted. Defense admitted negligence prior to trial. On cross examination, Plaintiff admitted that his retirement was voluntary and that he was not eligible for promotion at the time he retire. Plaintiff also testified that there were a limited number of available slots for E-9 promotions at any given time. Plaintiff also disputed the results of a fitness test performed after the accident showing a passing score. Defense moved for a directed verdict on the issues of causation and damages, arguing that in order to find that the accident caused Plaintiff to retire and lose a promotion, the jury would have to stack inferences and speculate that Plaintiff would have been promoted but for the accident having occurred. The judge granted defendants’ motions for directed verdict as to all issues.
Verdict Date: December 07, 2018
Barrett v. Benfanti
Congratulations Richard Mangan and Derek Bush for obtaining a defense verdict for Dr. Paul Benfanti and Children’s Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates in behalf of TDC. The allegations in the matter surrounded care provided by Dr. Benfanti after an 8 year old female fell during a gymnastics class and sustained a radial neck fracture. Dr. Benfanti evaluated the child and diagnosed the facture, treating her with a closed reduction procedure. Unfortunately, additional bone formed due to an alleged missed plastic deformity of the ulna forming a complete synostosis), leaving the child’s right arm stuck in full supination with a complete lack of pronation. This prevented the right hand dominant child from typing, writing or eating with her right hand. Plaintiff had a life care plan prepared by Dr. Ronald Snyder (approximately $2.2M), which was withdrawn at trial following inconsistent testimony by Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon as to the child’s needs. Plaintiff asked for a pain and suffering award of $1.9M. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes and returned a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: December 07, 2018
Bunting v. Urra Nursery/ Juan Delgado
Congratulations Karissa Owens, Howard Citron and Julie Herzlich for obtaining a defense verdict for Urra Nursery, Inc. and Juan Delgado on behalf of Hortica Insurance Company. The case involved a commercial trucking claim arising out of an accident in which Defendant driver, Mr. Delgado, was driving his employer’s tractor trailer on a 4 lane highway in heavy rain when a F150 driven by the 23 year-old decedent sustained a suspension fracture. The fracture caused the left front wheel to separate and forced the truck into the Defendant’s lane. Mr. Delgado admitted to seeing the F150 out of control about ¼ mile away but did not react to it until 5-6 seconds later when it was coming out of the median in his direction. Defendant was traveling 60 mph in a 65 mph zone when the tractor trailer collided into the driver side of the truck causing the F150’s fuel tank to explode. The decedent died upon impact; however, he was badly burned and his family observed him at the scene. Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant was driving too fast for conditions, failed to take timely evasive action, and failed to keep a vigilant lookout. Plaintiff’s experts claimed that the Mr. Delgado should have begun reacting when the F150 exited into the median and should have been driving slower, and if he had, the fatal accident would not have occurred. A defense verdict was returned following the 7 day trial.
Verdict Date: November 08, 2018
Rutledge v. State Farm
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a favorable verdict for State Farm in the Rutledge case following a 9-day trial. Plaintiffs, James and Darlene Rutledge, alleged that Mr. Rutledge sustained two traumatic lumbar herniations during a rear-end collision caused by Foy Stone, an underinsured motorist. Mr. Rutledge was diagnosed with a soft tissue strain and did not treat again until two months later when he was referred by an attorney to Central Florida Injury (CFI). He then underwent a TLIF procedure performed by Dr. Joshua Appel. Mr. Rutledge returned to CFI and was receiving post-operative therapy on an articulating massage table when the table collapsed and allegedly re-injured his low back. Thereafter, Mr. Rutledge amended his complaint to add CFI, therapist Mindy Perkins, and the distributor of the massage table, Probus One Touch. By the time of trial, Mr. Rutledge had undergone six surgeries and had past medical bills of $883,711, almost all of which was incurred under letters of protection. In closing, plaintiffs asked for $12.8 million including a loss of consortium claim for Mrs. Rutledge. The jury deliberated for 3 hours, 10 minutes before returning a defense verdict awarding $300, 000.
Verdict Date: November 01, 2018
WHYNOT, Erik, Sancha & Brennan (minor) v. Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Congratulations Bucky Hurt, Dick Womble and Sean Crocker for obtaining a favorable verdict for Publix Super Markets, Inc. in the Whynot case. Plaintiffs alleged their 21-month old had sustained a traumatic brain injury when he hit his head in two falls. In his first fall, the child fell from a race cart style shopping cart after his mother failed to strap him in. Plaintiffs alleged there must not have been operational seatbelts present; otherwise, the mother would have utilized them. The mother then picked up her child and a Publix employee went to retrieve ice. Upon arrival with the ice, the mother placed it on the back of the child’s head, causing him to scream. Plaintiffs alleged that the mother handed the ice back to the employee, who then handed it to Plaintiffs’ other son, a three year old, who was still in the cart. Two Publix witnesses testified that it was the mother who handed the bag of ice directly to her other son. Within seconds, the three year old had torn open the bag of ice, causing ice and water to spill onto the cart and onto the floor. The manager in charge directed the mother away from the spill in an effort to take them to the front office. The mother, with her son still in her arms, instead proceeded to walk directly through the area of ice and water, causing her to fall and the child to fall and strike his head, yet again. Plaintiffs initially alleged Publix was negligent for both falls, but on the eve of trial, plaintiffs dropped the claims for the initial fall. The jury found Publix 30% negligent and Mrs. Whynot 70% negligent with a net verdict against Publix totaling $6,649.80. Publix will be entitled to taxable costs and attorney’s fees.
Verdict Date: October 09, 2018
Howe. v. Rental Car Company
Congratulations Howard Citron and Jesse Shurman for obtaining a defense verdict for one of the firm’s rental car company clients. Plaintiff alleged that the company charged him for pre-existing and fraudulently manufactured damages to a vehicle that he rented. His complaint included counts for fraud, civil theft and breach of the covenants of good faith and fair dealing. Plaintiff asserted that damage was pre-existing and/or ordinary wear and tear and that the company chose to pursue him despite knowledge of same. Plaintiff further alleged that a branch manager assured him that the company would not pursue when he returned the vehicle. Ultimately, the company sent plaintiff notice of the debt and then chose to forgive it in the interest of customer satisfaction.
Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1,000,000 for damages related to attempting to collect a “bad debt” and travel expenses for visits with the Attorney General’s Office and members of Congress which were made in an effort to promote legislation meant to regulate and reform practices in the rental car industry.
The court entered a verdict for the company and reserved jurisdiction on its motion to seek attorney’s fees and costs as authorized to the prevailing party by Florida’s civil theft statute.
Verdict Date: August 22, 2018
Callaghan v. Vasquez
Congratulations Dean Hewitt, Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a final summary judgment in favor of Fernando Vasquez on behalf of State Farm. This case arose out of a vehicle versus pedestrian accident. The accident occurred at dusk as plaintiff, Michael Callaghan, was attempting to cross eight lanes of travel on foot as defendant, Fernando Vasquez, proceeded through the intersection under a permissive green light. Mr. Callaghan was crossing in the dark without any lights or reflective devices and was not using a crosswalk.
In the motion for summary judgment, the defense argued that a motorist is not an insurer of the safety of a pedestrian who thrusts himself into a vehicle’s pathway and that an oncoming motorist who is exercising due care has no reason to suspect that a pedestrian will project himself into the line of traffic. Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that Mr. Vasquez was acting unreasonably or driving his vehicle in a negligent manner at the time of the impact. Accordingly, the court granted the summary judgment.
Verdict Date: August 09, 2018
Espinal v. Westgate Lakes, LLC
Congratulations Art Young and Meredith Stephens for obtaining a defense verdict in Espinal vs. Westgate Lakes LLC.
Mr. Espinal claimed that he fell, hitting his back, neck, and head, at Westgate due to water that was leaking from the suite above. During trial, Mr. Espinal played a cell phone video which showed large amounts of water falling from the ceiling and walls. Plaintiff claimed he sustained shoulder and cervical disc injuries and he could not participate in the family housekeeping business as a result. Mr. Espinal’s treating pain management physician, Dr. Paul Maldonado, brought an 18 gauge needle into the courtroom and subsequently admitted that epidural injections like those he administered to Plaintiff are not painful. Chiropractor Phil Scuderi assigned Mr. Espinal a 6% partial impairment. During trial, he admitted he had not seen Mr. Espinal since 2014 but nonetheless gave opinions on future care. Don Fournier testified for the defense regarding Westgate’s use of Nu-Safe, a product designed to decrease slip resistance on floor surfaces. He concluded that the floor in the unit was safe when wet and met all ANSI standards. The defense presented surveillance which showed Mr. E moving freely, using both hands and bending at the waist at an office where his wife provided cleaning services. Dr. Marc Kaye, the defense’s expert radiologist, testified that there were no objective findings of an acute injury to Mr. Espinal’s cervical spine or shoulder related to the incident.
The jury was out for one hour, ten minutes before rendering a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: June 14, 2018
Tye v. Creevy
Congratulations Dick Womble and Cliff Acord for obtaining a defense verdict in Tye v. Creevy, M.D., Arnoldo Singh, M.D. and Intercoastal Medical Group. TDC was the insurer.
The case involved an allegation that the physicians failed to appropriately manage bleeding in a patient that had been on long-term anticoagulation and who was at risk for pulmonary embolism. The defense argued reversal of anti-coagulation was necessary to prevent fatal bleeding due to a hematoma sustained in a fall.
The trial lasted nine days. The jury deliberated for four hours.
Verdict Date: May 24, 2018
Richelin v. Hughes
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a favorable verdict in Richelin v. Hughes.
The case arose out of an auto accident that occurred when defendant, Sydney Hughes, collided with the rear of Mr. Richelin’s vehicle in heavy stop-and-go trafficcausing minimal damage to his rear bumper. The defense admitted negligence prior to trial. At the scene of the accident, Mr. Richelin began complaining of neck and shoulder pain. EMTs recorded pain complaints but documented that he had normal sensation in his extremities. Mr. Richelin refused further treatment and left in his vehicle. On February 4, 2013, Mr. Richelin began treating for neck, shoulder and low back pain. Radiculopathy was ruled out and a soft tissue strain was diagnosed. Mr. Richelin treated with physical therapy to address his neck pain. A June 7, 2013 cervical MRI demonstrated bulging discs and radial tears as well as age-appropriate spurring and osteophytes. In June and again in September of 2014, Mr. Richelin presented for employment-related physicals. During both visits, he denied history of neck injury and pain. Mr. Richelin’s neck and extremities were found to be normal. In January of 2015, Mr. Richelin began treating with Dr. Nizam Razack who noted the presence of radiculopathy and diagnosed compression of the C5-6 and C6-7 nerve roots. An ACDF surgery was subsequently performed. At trial, palintiff’s counsel emphasized the absence of any pre-accident neck pain or treatment. However, on cross examination, Mr. Richelin admitted that he did not tell his doctors about a 2004 auto accident for which he received treatment for neck pain. He claimed that he denied any neck injury on the intake forms in 2014 because he could not read the question due to a language barrier. Dr. Razack, plaintiff’s only medical witness, related the 2016 surgery to injuries caused by the 2013 accident. Defense focused on the 2014 records documenting the absence of neck pain or radiculopathy. Dr. Stephen Goll and Dr. Marc Kaye both testified on behalf of the defense that Mr. Richelin’s immediate post-accident palliative care was reasonable, that Dr. Razack’s surgery had nothing to do with the accident and that the radiculopathy was caused by osteophytes compressing the nerve roots rather than acute herniation.
After a 4 day trial, the jury deliberated for 1 hour before returning a verdict awarding Mr. Richelin $20,000 in past medical expenses only. Following post-verdict reductions for PIP setoffs, the verdict will be close to zero.
Verdict Date: May 03, 2018
Gilchrist v. Allen
Congratulations Jeremy Palma and Michael Woodard for obtaining a favorable verdict after a seven day trial on behalf of State Farm.
The case stemmed from a motor vehicle accident where the defendant ran a red light and T-boned plaintiff on the driver side door resulting in significant damage. Plaintiff was transported to ORMC complaining of head, neck and shoulder pain and was diagnosed with a sprain strain injury. Plaintiff was 22 years old at the time and had no prior medical history. In the following years, Plaintiff accumulated $525,000 in medical expenses and underwent four surgeries, including a shoulder repair, a cervical disc replacement and a lumbar fusion. The defense admitted negligence and contested medical causation by presenting evidence that plaintiff sustained a soft tissue injury which would have resolved within 3 months as her doctors had diagnosed before she started treating under letters of protection. Defense focused on her years of treatment with only pain management as well as significant gaps in treatment before the shoulder surgery. The defense also presented records from non-LOP providers who documented normal exams without pain during the same time frame Plaintiff complained of extreme pain to her LOP providers. Plaintiff counsel asked for $2.45 million to compensate for past and future medical expenses, wages, and earning capacity.
The jury deliberated 2 hours, 36 minutes before returning a verdict in the amount of $165,788. The defense will be entitled to a $75,000 set-off so the net verdict is $90,788, below the $100,000 policy limit.
Verdict Date: March 13, 2018
Henderson v. Reid
Congratulating Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a favorable verdict in Henderson v. Reid for State Farm.
The case arose out of an automobile accident in which the vehicle driven by Ms. Henderson was rear ended by Mr. Reid’s vehicle and pushed into the vehicle in front of her. There were no injuries reported at the scene. Four days after the accident, Ms. Henderson presented to her chiropractor, Dr. Fadem, with complaints of neck and back pain. One week later she began complaining of shoulder pain. Dr. Fadem ordered MRIs which demonstrated herniated discs at C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7, bulges at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1, and a labral tear and as well as incomplete tear of rotator cuff. Ms. Henderson underwent labral repair and then began treating with Dr. Razack, a neurosurgeon, who performed epidural steroid injections. Ms. Henderson was released in 2013 but returned in 2015 complaining of new symptoms. Dr. Razack then performed an ACDF at C5-6 and C6-7. Ms. Henderson had pre-existing neck, back and shoulder complaints dating as far back as 1982 and had previously been diagnosed with herniated discs and undergone a shoulder arthroscopy following a 2004 accident. Plaintiff argued that the need for both shoulder and neck surgeries were related to the 2013 accident. Ms. Henderson had past medical expenses of $236,000. The defense’s theory was that the need for Ms. Henderson‘s neck surgery was related to a new injury and the need for shoulder surgery was due to continued degeneration following her prior arthroscopic surgery. In closing, plaintiff requested the jury award Ms. Henderson more than $750, 000. Defense suggested the jury award Ms. Henderson $22,800, the cost of the palliative chiropractic care and initial MRIs.
After 3.5 hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $106,000 in past medical expenses.
Verdict Date: February 16, 2018
Mullen v. King, M.D.
Congratulations Art Young and Bowie Kuhn for obtaining a defense verdict TDC insured.
Dr. King was sued by a former patient, Maria Mullen, regarding surgical complications which occurred during right total knee revision surgery. In 1994, Dr. King had implanted the original artificial knee; however, over the next 17 years normal wear and tear caused the knee component parts to breakdown, necessitating the revision. During the revision surgery, Dr. King cut Ms. Mullen’s popliteal artery and vein. He immediately recognized the injury, stopped his procedure and summoned a vascular surgeon who successfully completed the repair. Post-operatively, she was noted to have foot-drop and subsequent physicians believed this to be the result of an intra-operative ischemic event which damaged the peroneal nerve. Ms. Mullen alleged a lack of informed consent, which was dropped the first day of trial, and negligence. The defense denied the vascular injury constituted any negligence arguing it was a known complication of the surgery.
The trial lasted 7 days. The jury deliberated 55 minutes before reaching a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: February 06, 2018
Pagan v. Saranita
Congratulations Dick Womble and Christine Zharova for obtaining a defense verdict in this 12 day trial.
Plaintiff claimed that Dr. Saranita inappropriately prescribed an excessive dose of an opioid medication resulting in respiratory depression and death. The defense concentrated on the lack of evidence of the amount taken and when. The amount prescribed was safe and appropriate in a patient who had not previously taken the medication.
Plaintiff counsel requested the jury to return an award of $22 million. The jury deliberated for 2 hours, 30 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of Dr. Saranita.
Verdict Date: January 30, 2018
Mead v. Latham
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a defense verdict in Mead v. Latham.
The case arose from a motor vehicle accident in which the defendant collided with Mr. Mead’s vehicle while stopped in traffic. The force of the impact pushed Mr. Mead’s vehicle into another car and caused extensive rear and frontal property damage. Mr. Mead testified that he was wearing his seatbelt and did not brace for the impact. Defendant, Peter Latham, admitted negligence. Mr. Mead was 47 at the time of the collision and alleged permanent injuries that included a C7-T1 foraminal herniation, which he claimed caused ongoing neck pain radiating into his arm and a separate arm ulnar nerve , and thoracic outlet “double crush” injury causing intermittent left arm pain and numbness. Four years after the accident, Mr. Mead began treating for his neck and arm complaints was referred a hand and arm surgeon. An ulnar nerve entrapment was diagnosed and ulnar nerve decompression surgery was performed. Plaintiff’s medical witnesses related the herniation and all treatment to the accident but also admitted that the herniation was not present in any of the post-accident MRIs and that the ulnar decompression surgery was also unrelated to the accident. The defense presented the testimony that opined that Mr. Mead had not sustained any permanent injury resulting from the accident and that at most, he had sustained a temporary soft tissue injury based upon his subjective reporting of pain. The defense also called a radiology expert who showed the jury Mr. Mead’s films and testified that the C7-T1 left foraminal pathway was patent in both studies. The defense’s closing focused on Mr. Mead’s contradictory post-accident medical records that ruled out permanent symptoms and his years of participation in physically intense, injury-prone activities.
The jury deliberated for 2 hours, 45 minutes before returning a verdict awarding Mr. Mead $15,600 for past medical bills only. Collateral source setoffs for PIP and adjustments will reduce net recovery to zero. The defense should also be entitled to attorney’s fees.
Verdict Date: January 29, 2018