Araujo v. Platt
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a defense verdict on behalf of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.The lawsuit arose out of a rear end collision. Plaintiff claimed she sustained a tear to the medial meniscus of her knee requiring repair surgery. She also claimed that the accident caused a second tear to the lateral meniscus of her knee which required an additional surgery. During the second surgery she also underwent a partial knee replacement. Plaintiff claimed that she would require a total knee replacement within 10 to 15 years. At trial, the defense admitted negligence. The defense demonstrated that Plaintiff had no complaints of right knee pain until approximately 38 days after the accident. Defense experts testified that the delay in reporting knee pain was not consistent with a traumatic tear of the meniscus. Plaintiff’s counsel requested $73,000 in past pain and suffering and $474,000 in future pain and suffering. The jury deliberated 26 minutes before returning a complete defense verdict.
Verdict Date: October 31, 2019
Repetti v. Scott Tapper, M.D.
Congratulations Bucky Hurt and Skip Jewett for their defense verdict for Dr. Scott Tapper on behalf of MagMutual Insurance Company. Lynn Repetti claimed Dr. Tapper failed to diagnose and treat her for compartment syndrome in her leg during hospital admissions. Plaintiff complained of swelling and pain in her calf and of an enlarging skin lesion on the back of the calf. Plaintiff claimed that Dr. Tapper’s allegedly negligent delay and treatment caused permanent nerve injury in the lower leg that now requires chronic pain management with opioids and gabapentin. She also claimed that she needed extensive wound care and a skin graft, which eventually became a full thickness wound. The defense contended that Dr. Tapper’s role was limited to evaluating the arterial and venous circulation in the leg and determining whether plaintiff had limb threatening arterial ischemia that required immediate intervention. The defense presented evidence that it was highly unlikely that plaintiff had compartment syndrome at any point. Plaintiff asked for a total award of $1.785 million. The jury deliberated for 32 minutes before returning a verdict for Dr. Tapper.
Verdict Date: October 24, 2019
OPAZO Directed Verdict
Congratulations Howard Citron and Jesse Shurman for obtaining a directed verdict for one of the firm’s rental car company clients. Plaintiff alleged that the company charged him for an optional damage waiver that he declined. As such, his complaint included a count for fraud. Plaintiff asserted that a sales associate forced him to purchase the damage waiver in order to rent the vehicle and that his insurance company would be billed for the product at no expense to him. In response, the Defense provided the Court with a copy of the Plaintiff’s executed rental agreement, confirming Plaintiff initialed and signed the document ratifying his consent to be personally liable for the payment of same. Plaintiff argued that, notwithstanding his signature, he was “scammed” into purchasing the damage waiver and was deceived by the sales associate. He further argued that he brought in proof that his own personal insurance covered property damage to a rental car and that, even though this information was provided to the company, it deceived him into buying the waiver protection. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Directed Verdict after Plaintiff confirmed that his signature and initials ratified his acceptance and personal responsibility for all costs associated with the damage waiver and found that the company did not engage in any fraudulent conduct.
Verdict Date: October 18, 2019
Campos v. Cancelmo
Congratulations Juan Ruiz and Aaron Eagan for obtaining a favorable verdict on behalf of State Farm Miami. Plaintiff, Tinnie Campos, claimed permanent low back injuries resulting from a 2013 T-bone collision caused by Mary Cancelmo. Both vehicles were declared a total loss. Plaintiff was driven from the scene to the hospital where she complained of back, neck, foot, arm and shoulder pain. One week after the accident, Ms. Campos retained an attorney and began treating. A lumbar MRI performed one month after the accident showed acute disc herniation and bulges at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5. Ms. Campos treated initially with medication and physical therapy and later received spinal injections through 2014. Ms. Campos began treating with Dr. Richard Smith in 2016 who recommended a lumbar microdiskectomy at L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5. Ms. Campos, suffered from chronic diabetes, hypertension and morbid obesity, failed to obtain medical clearance for surgery. Ms. Campos denied pre-accident history of low back pain or treatment however, medical and pharmacy records documented that she had been taking prescription medication for low back pain since 2010. At trial, Ms. Campos represented that she had recently obtained medical clearance for the surgery recommended by Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith testified that Ms. Campos had sustained a permanent injury and related the need for surgery to the accident. Dr. Mahan also testified that Ms. Campos’ disc abnormalities represented acute injuries. The defense called Dr. Marc Kaye and Dr. Joseph Uricchio and presented that Ms. Campos’ low back problems were the result of pre-existing chronic changes related to her obesity. The defense also argued that Ms. Campos’ future surgery was speculative and unlikely to occur due to Ms. Campos’ comorbidities. In closing, Plaintiff requested $377,949 for past and future medical bills and pain and suffering. Defense suggested that the jury award $36,000, the approximate cost of Plaintiff’s immediate post-accident diagnostic and palliative care. The jury deliberated for 1 hour, 15 minutes before returning a verdict awarding Plaintiff $36,000 only. The defense will move for attorney fees and costs.
Verdict Date: August 23, 2019
Elg v. Florida Cancer Specialists
Congratulations Cliff Acord and Eric Ochotorena in obtaining a defense verdict in Elg v. Florida Cancer Specialists. This was a 4 day medical malpractice case which arose out of the death of Lynn Elg. Ms. Elg, a breast cancer patient at Florida Cancer Specialists, was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) by Dr. Tom Tang in November 2015. She was treated with plasma exchange which resulted in improvement of her symptoms. While covering for Dr. Tang on March 15, 2016 Dr. Mary Li received a call from the ER advising that Ms. Elg was there with symptoms similar to those she presented with in November 2015. Dr. Li attributed her symptoms to recent chemotherapy and according to the ER records, Dr. Lia advised that admission to the hospital was not warranted. Ms. Elg was discharged. There was disputed evidence at trial as to whether Dr. Li was made aware of the prior diagnosis of TTP, but all experts agreed that if she was made aware the standard of care required admission to the hospital which would have likely led to a diagnosis of relapsed TTP. Three days later Ms. Elg returned to the hospital with no improvement of her symptoms. She went into respiratory failure was admitted to the hospital. She was subsequently diagnosed with TTP and treated unsuccessfully with plasma exchange. She died on March 22, 2016. The death certificate signed by Dr. Tang listed TTP as one of the causes of death. Plaintiff argued that earlier diagnosis and treatment would have been successful as that the treatment in November 2015 was. The defense was that the standard of care did not require admission to the hospital based upon the documentation in the ER record. Additionally, Ms. Elg died from complications of breast cancer, not TTP.
Verdict Date: April 25, 2019
SMITH, George v. Direct H, LLC
Congratulations Derek Bush and Skylar Stewart for obtaining a defense verdict in George Smith v. Direct H, LLC; Vincent Stanley & Direct Automotive Management, Inc. d/b/a Kuhn Honda and Kuhn Volkswagen for Sentry Insurance. This was a motor vehicle vs. bicycle accident in which Plaintiff claimed injuries to his neck, lower back, both shoulders, both knees, and both wrists. Plaintiff treated for over five years, underwent two surgeries and had recommendations for four future surgical procedures. Additionally, Plaintiff brought a claim for lost wages and earning capacity. Plaintiff boarded past medical expenses of approximately $150,000 and claimed future medical expenses in excess of $300,000. Additionally, Plaintiff sought past and future pain and suffering and lost future wages exceeding $400,000. One week prior to trial, the Plaintiff made a “final demand” of $375,000. The defense offered $225,000. The trial lasted 4 days. The jury deliberated for 61 minutes and returned a defense verdict.
Verdict Date: April 11, 2019
Wasielewski v. Williams & State Farm
Congratulations Dean Hewitt for obtaining a favorable verdict Wasielewski v. Williams & State Farm. The case arose out of a motor vehicle v. motorcycle accident. Plaintiff claimed that Williams changed lanes into his motorcycle. Williams claimed that Plaintiff rode his motorcycle into her car with a glancing blow on the rear door. Plaintiff claimed an injury/aggravation to his low back as well as injury to his foot/ankle which developed into Complex Regional Pain Syndrome requiring the need for implantation of a spinal cord stimulator. The defense claimed that Plaintiff sustained nothing more than a foot contusion and ankle sprain. The defense also argued that there was no objective evidence of CRPS in Plaintiff’s foot which was not diagnosed until 20 months post-accident. Plaintiff boarded past medical expenses of $22,446.29 and future medical expenses of $129,600 including the spinal cord stimulator. Plaintiff also sought past pain and suffering damages of $100,000 - $400,000 and future pain and suffering damages of $1.2 to $4.2 million. The total was $1,452,046 - $4,752,046. Plaintiff sued Williams and State Farm for underinsured motorist benefits. There was no permanency threshold defense because Plaintiff was riding a motorcycle. The trial lasted 4 days. The jury deliberated 4 hours and returned a verdict finding Plaintiff and Defendant each 50% at fault for the accident. The jury awarded past medical expenses and pain and suffering only. The net verdict of $17,473.15 (after 50% reduction for Plaintiff’s comparative negligence) is well below the PFS served by each Defendant. Thus, each Defendant will be moving to tax its attorney’s fees and costs against Plaintiff.
Verdict Date: January 25, 2019
Cruz, Pedro & Christina Ruiz v. North Shore Medical Center
Congratulations Isaac Ruiz-Carus and Eric Ochotorena for obtaining a Directed Verdict for North Shore Medical Center (Tenet). In a very unique case, plaintiffs alleged that NSMC improperly disposed of or lost fetal remains following a miscarriage at 16 weeks. Plaintiffs desired to keep the remains for burial and executed a state mandated AHCA form. When the plaintiffs returned to claim the remains, the hospital realized it was no longer in possession and acknowledged the AHCA form had become separated from the remains leading to disposal of them. Initially, plaintiffs’ suit included many different causes of action including tortious interference with a dead body and conversion most of which the trial court dismissed. At trial, the remaining counts were for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court had previously granted plaintiffs’ motion to add a claim for punitive damages.. On the first day of trial, the court granted the pending motion for summary judgment on the NIED claim (based upon the impact rule) leaving only the intentional tort and punitive damages. After that ruling, plaintiffs asked if they could still accept the prior settlement offer. Tenet notified the plaintiffs that money was no longer available. Plantiffs called 14 witnesses. Plaintiffs established that they had timely executed the AHCA form and the hospital did not have the remains when they went to claim them. The defense countered that fetal remains under 20 weeks are treated as “wet” tissue (not as a dead body) and processed accordingly. Florida law requires a hospital to appropriately dispose of fetal remains in a sanitary manner within 30 days. Plaintiffs’ “expert” admitted that the hospital would have been required to break the law in order to have the remains available when the funeral home came 54 days later to claim them. The defense moved for directed verdict which was granted due to the complete lack of evidence of intentional conduct sufficient to sustain a claim for IIED.
Verdict Date: January 22, 2019