A jury in Miami-Dade County Florida Circuit Court awarded $4.5 million on Sept. 16 to the family of an 89-year-old woman who suffered brain injuries when a commercial vehicle struck the car she was in.
Attorneys John H. (Jack) Hickey and Bjorg Eikeland with Hickey Law Firm represented the plaintiff as personal representative of the Estate of Maria Deposada.
Desposada was riding in a 3 series BMW on July 8, 2008, when a Ford Taurus ran a red light in midtown Miami and crashed broadside into her car. The Ford was leased by Pernod and driven by an intern for Pernod Ricard, USA LLC, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, the multinational liquor conglomerate.
Deposada suffered a subdural hematoma in the skull. After the hematoma caused a buildup of pressure on and damage to the brain, she underwent a craniotomy, surgery where part of the skull is removed temporarily to relieve pressure on the brain. The surgery was a success, but Deposada was left with a serious and permanent brain injury.
Deposada also suffered five fractured ribs, a fractured ankle, torn meniscus of the knee, two torn shoulder ligaments, and herniation of discs in the neck and back. For the most part, these injuries were missed even in 2 hospital admissions.
Deposada’s only real health issue before the car crash was a blood disorder arose during the last 6 months of her life. Deposada filed suit but died before the case came to trial.
Before the car crash, Deposada was described as the “Energizer bunny.” She was seen in photos on a cruise to Europe walking without problems on cobblestone streets. The testimony was that after the crash, everything changed.
Pernod admitted liability, but it would not admit that the car crash caused any permanent injuries.
Pernod relied for its defense on notes by various physicians who were not treating Deposada for her car crash injuries. Pernod argued that Deposada was doing well after the crash and discounted objective tests—supported by the testimony of family and friends--that showed permanent and significant brain injury and orthopedic injuries.
"This case is a testament to the fact that our medical system rarely listens well to older people and that older people in the medical system and in the courts need advocates," Hickey said.
The case is [name withheld v. Pernod Ricard, USA LLC, Circuit Court 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, Florida; Case No. 12-22050 CA 22.