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