Case Results: $113,000 Jury Verdict in Essex Superior Court
The Injury Law Center recently received a stunning victory in a hotly contested jury trial which took place in Essex County Superior Court in Lawrence, MA. The trial lasted from December 2, 2014 to December 9, 2014 and involved testimony from eleven witnesses. The jury awarded the plaintiff, a local restaurant owner and chef, $113,000 for a torn rotator cuff which he sustained in a motor vehicle crash which took place in downtown Andover, MA back in January of 2012.
The plaintiff had just left his restaurant and was driving on Main Street when he observed a vehicle being driven by the 79 year old defendant approach him going approximately 35 mph. The defendant’s vehicle began to drift over the double yellow line and the plaintiff observed that her head was below the dashboard and her hand was up in the air. The defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff’s vehicle head-on causing her vehicle to ricochet off his car and strike a parked car behind her.
When the police and paramedics arrived, the defendant was found to be unresponsive. They suspected that she had sustained a stroke which caused the crash and she was rushed to a local hospital. The defendant subsequently slipped into a coma and was transported to a Boston hospital by helicopter where it was determined that she had sustained an anoxic brain injury, meaning she was not getting oxygen to the brain. She passed away seven days after the crash.
These facts did not bode well for the plaintiff since there is a law in Massachusetts which states that if a motorist suffers an unforeseen Sudden Medical Emergency, she can’t be found negligent despite causing the crash. If the jury accepted this defense, the plaintiff would walk away with nothing.
The case became even more difficult when the defendant’s primary care physician testified that there were no warning signs which indicated that the defendant was unfit to drive. The defense also retained an expert witness who testified that the defendant suffered a cardiac arrhythmia which caused her to faint before the impact.
Attorney Joseph Russo, who tried the case, never gave up on his client and discovered crucial information throughout the litigation which swung momentum back in the plaintiff’s favor. First, the defendant had to be driven to her doctor twice in early January by a family member because she was complaining about confusion. Second, a week before the crash the defendant had fallen and was suspected of having a condition which could lead to early onset of dementia. Third, the defendant was actually on her way to her doctor when the crash occurred for a neurological consultation.
Attorney Russo was also able to box in the defense expert into admitting that there was nothing to support his theory in the medical records and his opinion was solely based on statistical probabilities.
Despite all of Attorney Russo’s efforts, the defendant’s insurance company was so confident that they would win that they only offered $7,500 to settle the case before trial.
This case was unique in that it was one of the first cases tried in Massachusetts after the enactment of the Trial Court Bill which allows plaintiff’s attorneys to suggest a monetary figure to the jury which would fairly compensate their client. Attorney Russo suggested a reasonable number to the jury in his closing argument - $90,000. They awarded the plaintiff $113,000.