Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds $55 Million Seat Belt Defect

Plaintiff attorney Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

Plaintiff attorney Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has affirmed a record-setting $55 million jury verdict against Honda Motor Company from a product liability lawsuit involving a seat belt defect.

The plaintiff in the case, Carlos Martinez, is represented by Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck attorneys Stewart Eisenberg and Daniel J. Sherry, Jr.

Following the trial court verdict, Honda appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and contended there should be a new trial for multiple reasons. Honda claimed that the trial court should have allowed Honda to present evidence that the 1999 Acura Integra complied with industry and federal standards.

However, the Superior Court rejected that argument, agreeing with the trial court that the evidence was inadmissible. The Superior Court also determined that the trial court properly charged the jury in light of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in Tincher v. Omega Flex. Furthermore, the Superior Court rejected Honda’s contention that the jury was improperly instructed on the correct legal standards pertaining to warnings, and refused Honda’s request to reduce the amount of the jury’s verdict.

Defective design

Stewart and Daniel secured the $55 million jury verdict for Mr. and Mrs. Martinez against Honda after a Philadelphia jury determined that the seatbelt installed in the 1999 Acura Integra was defectively designed and caused Mr. Martinez to strike his head on the vehicle’s roof during a low-speed rollover.

This caused Mr. Martinez, a beloved husband, father, and wage-earner, to become a motorized wheelchair dependent quadriplegic who is now forced to rely on others for all activities of daily living. The jury also determined that Honda failed to adequately warn Mr. Martinez of the dangers associated with the seatbelt, given that Honda knew, since 1992, that that seatbelt would not protect occupants of the Integra in the event of a rollover.

When asked for his thoughts on the case, Stewart Eisenberg said, “On behalf of our clients, we are pleased with the unanimous decision by the Superior Court affirming the verdict that was handed down by the jury in Philadelphia almost three years ago.”

Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck has offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, NJ.

$11.25 M Verdict Obtained for Family of Young Mother Killed in 2015 Double Fatal Crash

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of Chicago.

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of Chicago.

A Winnebago County, Illinois, jury award  $11.25 million jury verdict on behalf of the family of a 33-year-old mother who was killed in a 2015 double fatal crash.

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of the Chicago personal injury law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. represented the plaintiffs. Patrick Salvi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys.

On February 6, 2015, around 8:45 a.m., an employee of Anderson Automotive, Inc. was driving a 2004 Mazda RX8 westbound in the 5200 block of Guilford Road near Roxbury Road when he swerved into the eastbound lane of traffic, striking a 2001 Ford Taurus driven by 33-year-old Chamicwa Black.

The Anderson Automotive employee was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Black was taken to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, where she later died.

Ms. Black’s son, Jaquan, who was 8 years old at the time of the crash, was taken in by his grandmother, Venus Black. Jaquan has suffered significantly and was forced to transfer schools due to bullying regarding his mother’s death.

Company admits negligence

“Chamwica was a loving and protective mother whose life was cut too short because of this driver’s negligence. Chamwica’s son has had to go through life without the guidance and support of his wonderful mother,” The Black family’s attorney Patrick A. Salvi said. “I am so glad the jury recognized the magnitude of this loss.”

Anderson Automotive admitted negligence for the collision. On Friday, March 31, 2017 a Winnebago County jury awarded the family of Chamicwa Black $11.25 million. The case is Estate Of Chamicwa Black, Deceased, By Venus Black, Administrator; Plaintiff, V. Anderson Automotive, Inc. Defendants, Case No. 15-L-82.

“This award will help take care of young Jaquan and pay for any counseling,” Mr. Salvi said.

The defendant, Anderson Automotive, Inc., was represented by Harvey Paulsen and William Nickol of Paulsen, Malec & Malartsik, and were insured with Sentry Insurance for over $15 million. The defendant’s last offer was $2 million.

The plaintiffs were also assisted by attorney Aaron D. Boeder of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.

$15 Million Verdict Against Property Mgmt. Company for DUI Accident Involving Employee

Attorney Bruce Broillet of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP in Los Angeles

Attorney Bruce Broillet of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles jury found property management company First Service Residential California, LLC responsible for the acts of an employee who drove intoxicated resulting in a serious car accident. The accident caused a severe injury to the right arm of 49-year-old Tomislav George, leading to almost 30 surgeries in the past four years.

On Wednesday, the jury returned a $15 million verdict with a finding of 20% comparative fault against Mr. George, producing a net verdict of $12 million.

The two-car accident happened in Pasadena, CA on the 134 freeway on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2013. George contended the driver, Lance Sandman, was in the course and scope of his job as a property manager for the upscale Pasadena condominium complex, the Prado. George was on the board of the Prado Homeowner’s Association. George contended that Sandman took George to an Irish bar to scout ideas for a St. Patrick’s Day Party to be held the following year at the Prado.

Sandman became intoxicated at the bar and proceeded to drive George home when the accident happened. The defendant claimed that this was simply a social event of two men drinking on St. Patrick’s Day and was not related to business. The defendant claimed that George had also become intoxicated and should not have ridden in the car with Sandman.  The defendant denied that the visit to the bar was in any way related to business, and further claimed that Sandman’s actions were not in the course and scope of his employment.

DUI conviction

Sandman had been convicted of driving under the influence six months after being hired by First Service in 2007, and had not told his employer about the conviction. George’s attorney produced evidence that Sandman should have been registered in a DMV “Pull Program” long before the date of the accident. The Pull Program provides to an employer an employee’s driving record. If he had been placed in the Pull Program, First Service would have been made aware that Sandman had been convicted of a DUI and would have taken action to either terminate him or restrict his driving privileges for the company well before the date of this incident.

At trial, lead trial plaintiff attorney Bruce Broillet, with the law firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, argued that Sandman was in the course and scope of his employment and that the company was negligent.

“When a company knows it can be held financially liable for its failures or the failures of its employees, it will be motivated to keep everyone’s safety a high priority,” said Broillet.

The plaintiff’s legal team included Bruce Broillet, Alan Van Gelder and Taylor Rayfield with Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, which is a Santa Monica plaintiffs’ firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured consumers across California to improve public safety and demand accountability.

Florida Jury Awards $3.22 Million for Interrupted Cancer Treatments In Addition to Injuries Caused by Tractor Crash

In a two-week trial conducted by attorneys Brian Denney and Ed Ricci, a Palm Beach County jury awarded security guard Barry Davis $3,220,000 for damages incurred when his vehicle was struck by a tractor towing a grass mower. The verdict was based not only on Davis’s immediate injuries from the crash, but on his consequent inability to continue timely cancer treatments.

Tractor driver Dale Vannelli was hauling a large, heavy commercial grass mower called a bushhog when he hit Davis’s Ford Mustang on the driver’s side as Davis neared an intersection. Davis, who has been traveling 76 miles an hour in a 50 miles per hour zone, was airlifted to a nearby hospital, suffering a left hemopneumothorax, which required a thoracostomy; a splenic rupture, which required exploratory laparotomy and splenectomy; fractures of his left clavicle; and multiple rib, lumbar, and other injuries. He was hospitalized for 22 agonizing days of surgeries, therapy and rehabilitation.

Prior to the December 4, 2013 crash, Davis had been undergoing radiation treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma on his left cheek/jaw area, and the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. For two months after the accident, due to his extensive injuries, he could not undergo critical cancer treatments. Less than two years later, doctors found that the squamous cell carcinoma had returned to Davis’s cheek and had already metastasized to the parotid gland. This diagnosis resulted in extensive surgery to remove the tumor, massive skin grafts from his right arm to repair surgical areas, and additional chemotherapy and radiation.

Because the crash with Vannelli had adversely affected his ability to treat his cancer successfully, Davis asked Board Certified attorney Brian Denney of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley to represent him in a legal action to hold the tractor driver and his employer, South Florida Bushhog Service, Inc., accountable for the damages.

“There was no question that the tractor crash was the catalyst for a one-two punch that resulted in life-threatening injuries and unimaginable suffering for Mr. Davis,” said Denney. “When the defendants refused to accept responsibility, we were forced to take the case to court.”

Defendants maintained that Davis was solely liable for the crash because he was exceeding the speed limit, and that Davis’s recurrent cancer was not related to the interruption of treatment caused by the accident. They argued that, since Davis had a history of other superficial skin cancers, the recurrence on his left cheek would have occurred regardless of the crash. They also argued that Davis should not have been driving because he had received cancer treatments the day of the accident.

However, in the course of a two-week trial, the Searcy Denney attorneys disputed defense attorneys’ allegations with the sworn statements of a treating oncologist, who testified that the cancer recurrence was caused by the lapse in Davis’s treatments. The jury agreed.

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley is a Florida-based trial law firm with more than 40 years’ experience handling personal injury cases. The firm has been named by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” as a 2017 First Tier “Best Law Firm” in West Palm Beach for six practice areas and in Tallahassee for two practice areas.

Jury Awards $52 Million to Florida Family in Devastating Car Accident

Ervin A. Gonzalez

Plaintiff attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Attorneys Ervin A. Gonzalez and Patrick Montoya, partners at the Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, secured the largest jury verdict in Ocala history for a family involved in a devastating car accident that left five family members, including four children under the age of 12, with permanent and life altering injuries. After a weeklong trial, a jury in the Fifth Circuit Court of Florida in Marion County awarded the Ocala family $52 million in damages in an auto negligence lawsuit.

On Dec. 6, 2013, plaintiff Yolanda Aldana was driving her 2011 Nissan Sentra with her four minor children as passengers. She was stopped at a red light on Maricamp Road at the intersection of SE 31 Street in Ocala when she was struck from behind by the Defendant, Nathan Pyles, who was traveling at a high rate of speed. The force from the defendant’s 2012 BMW caused Aldana’s vehicle to plow into the vehicle in front of her that was also stopped at the red light. Aldana and her four children were severely injured and suffered permanent disfigurement and other injuries as a result of the accident.

Kenneth Herrera, 23 months, suffered severe injuries, including brain and cervical spine injuries, a fractured pelvic, and multiple fractures to his left leg. He underwent numerous surgical procedures, including an insertion of a tracheostomy and feeding tube, bone grafting, and a cervical spine fusion. He is now a paraplegic with no use of his hands, bladder and bowel control.

Anthony Martinez, 10, suffered multiple severe injuries, including a lacerated liver and spleen, degloving of right lower torso, pelvic fractures, a dislocated right hip, and a sciatic nerve injury. He underwent multiple surgical procedures, including skin grafting, and an exploratory laparotomy, and colostomy, coccygectomy surgery, and an insertion of a traction pin through leg and bone. He will require several more surgeries for his injuries.

Kevin Martinez, 12, suffered head and neck injuries, a broken jaw, and bilateral fractures to both legs. He underwent multiple surgeries and was temporary intubated due to an unstable spine.

Alejandro Aldana, 8, suffered a laceration to the left leg, subsequent infection and abscess, an altered gait, lower back pain, and bruising from airbags.

Yolanda Aldana, 39, suffered multiple injuries, including a concussion, brain injury, hip fracture, multiple rib fractures, lacerated spleen, and blunt force trauma to the abdomen and chest.

“We can’t bring back the health of this family who suffered devastating injuries, but at the very least, we can bring them some dignity and respect that they deserve and quality ongoing health care that they so desperately need,” said Gonzalez, who represented the plaintiffs at trial along with co-counsel Montoya.

The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson is a trial firm with nearly 50 years of experience handling local, national and international litigation, and arbitration. Members of the firm have been involved in some of the country’s most high-profile and landmark cases resulting in impactful and precedential rulings.

$315,000 Settlement for Post-Traumatic Fibromyalgia Caused by Motor Vehicle Accident

A Pennsylvania women reached a $315,000 settlement with the owners and operator of a truck that struck her motor vehicle, forcing her vehicle to strike the vehicle in front her. She suffered neck and back injuries that evolved into fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome

Plaintiff Lillian Ridenbaugh was on her way to work in Montgomery County, PA, when struck in the rear by defendants’ truck. In this case, liability had been conceded by the Defendant. 

She suffered post-traumatic fibromyalgia, a post-traumatic stress disorder due to the accident which is amplifying her symptomatology further, and an exacerbation of preexisting cervical and lumbar degenerative spondylosis which had resolved.

Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta, Huntingdon Valley, PA, represented the plaintiff. The case is Lillian Ridenbaugh, John Ridenbaugh v. Kenneth Chisholm, Cedar Farms Company Inc., Penske Truck Leasing Co., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, June Term, 2015 No. 001075 before Judge Diane Welsh.

Generalized myofascial pain

Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta in Huntingdon Valley, PA

Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta in Huntingdon Valley, PA

Expert witness Dr. Leventhal, a rheumatologist, was prepared to tell the jury that, “The theory on how trauma can initiate a generalized myofascial pain syndrome like fibromyalgia is that subsequent to the trauma in which there are soft tissue injuries, the process known as central sensitization takes place in which the pain centers continue to perceive ongoing pain impulses despite the fact that there should be normal resolution of these impulses with healing.  An analogy would be phantom limb syndrome pain, in which patients, after having foot amputations, still feel pain at the site where the foot previously existed.”

But Ridenbaugh was not immediately diagnosed with post-traumatic fibromyalgia. Instead, she endured two years of painful yet fruitless medical treatments for unremitting pain in her neck and back, oppressive anxiety and nightmares about the accident, and depression as a result of pain and loss of her work and hobbies, before being properly diagnosed in December 2015.  

Since being properly diagnosed, Ridenbaugh is no better, but at least she now knows why.  Although her symptoms wax and wane, she experiences, daily, all over body aches which increase with activities, constant pain in her neck which radiates into both arms (left more than right), pain across her shoulder blades and pain across her low back and into her legs.   

Dr. Leventhal performed an independent medical examination in December 2015. He reviewed extensive medical records, conducted a physical examination, and determined that Mrs. Ridenbaugh suffered a chronic cervical and lumbar myofascial pain syndrome which has evolved into fibromyalgia syndrome as a result of the crash. He found all treatment she had received up to the time of his evaluation as reasonable, necessary and causally related to injuries suffered in the crash.

Dr. Leventhal concluded that the plaintiff suffers from the fibromyalgia syndrome which has caused serious impairment of bodily function.  She continues to have problems with generalized pain and limitations in both her vocational and avocational activities and activities of daily living.  The prognosis for improvement is poor due to the fact that fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome.  The fact that her pain has been ongoing for nearly two years (at the time of his report and now 3 years) places her at a poor prognosis category.  He opined that the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident will be lifelong in duration and will require ongoing treatment including a regimented low level aerobic exercise program with slow gradual increments, improved sleep, and a trial of various medications.

Georgia Jury Awards $15 Million to Nursing Student who Survived Deadly Crash

Attorney Robert D. Cheeley of Alpharetta, GA.

Attorney Robert D. Cheeley of Alpharetta, GA.

A jury in Georgia has awarded $15 million to a survivor of crash that killed five of her classmates. Former Georgia Southern University nursing student Megan Richards suffered traumatic brain injuries in the 2015 pileup.

The jurors awarded damages against trucking company Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent company, U.S. Express for the seven-car crash. The company and the driver had admitted fault in the accident.

“No human being should have to live through what Megan [Richards] lived through on I-16 in Bryan County,” The Cheeley Law Group’s Robert Cheeley told jurors.

In April 2015, Louisiana truck driver John Wayne Johnson was driving 70 mph and failed to press his breaks causing him to slam into several cars, according to AJC.com. The women were on their way to their last day of clinical rotations at a Savannah hospital.

Lawyers for the victim’s families filed a lawsuit weeks later alleging Johnson for inexplicable reasons “did not slow or stop his large tractor-trailer in response to the long line of traffic in front of him that had been at a complete stop for several seconds as had every other vehicle and tractor-trailer that was stopped in traffic.”

Richards testified throughout the trial that she still suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

 

Plaintiff Couldn’t See Truck Turning; Crash Case Settles for $675,000

Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta in Huntingdon Valley, PA

Attorney Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta in Huntingdon Valley, PA

A Pennsylvania man who suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury when his SUV collided with a tractor-tanker truck obtained a $675,000 settlement from the trucking company.

The injury was worsened by a skull fracture the plaintiff suffered two years earlier, and a concussion from a fall three weeks before the vehicle wreck. The case is Daniel Dickson vs. Jose Uzhca and Langer Transport in the US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The plaintiff’s attorney is Anthony J. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

The plaintiff Daniel Dickson was operating his 2012 Ford Escape eastbound on Route 291 in Chester, PA, in the right lane of travel. Route 291 is two lanes eastbound and two lanes westbound. Jose Uzcha was driving a tractor owned by Langer Transport Company pulling a tractor-tanker northbound on Lamokin St. intending to turn left onto westbound 291. Lamokin St. is controlled by a stop sign.

Driver’s view obstructed

There is no traffic control device for traffic on 291 at the intersection with Lamokin St. Plaintiff moved from the right lane into the left lane due to a second tractor trailer stopped in the right lane near Lamokin St.  Meanwhile the tractor tanker pulled from the stop sign and through the left lane of eastbound 291. The plaintiff’s SUV collided with the driver’s side of the back end tractor tanker the front of which had, by the time the collision occurred, entered the far right westbound lane.

The plaintiff attempted to prove through accident reconstruction and human factors experts that his view of defendant’s tractor tanker was obstructed by the stopped tractor trailer and he could not have seen the defendant’s tractor tanker in time to avoid the collision.  The Plaintiff was knocked unconscious in the wreck and did not remember it.  He could not remember his speed.  Both truck drivers indicated he was speeding, going much faster than the 35 mph speed limit.

Plaintiff endured loss of consciousness and amnesia for events of the accident. Plaintiff alleged he continued to suffer headaches, memory loss, impatience, frustration, anger, and disequilibrium.

He was deemed disabled from all work by his treating physicians at the Moss Drucker Brain Injury Center. 

A vocational expert was prepared to testify that his loss of earning capacity ranges from $1 million (if he could return to some work) to $1.7 million (if he is unable to return to any work).The case against Langer and its driver settled for $675,000.  

The driver and company of the stopped tractor trailer were released from the suit prior to the settlement conference.  

Also see $500k Settlement in PA Bus Accident Causing Brain Injury

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Crash of School Bus without Seat Belts

Attorney Mo Aziz of Houston Selected for Texas Super Lawyers 2015

Houston, TX, attorney Mo Aziz

Texas attorney Mo Aziz of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz is representing the parents of 10-year old Zyanna Harris who was killed November 21, 2016, when her school bus crashed in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Troy Pradia and Jonathan Cox of the Cox Pradia Law Firm and Luke Neder of Dale Buchanan & Associates are also part of the family’s legal team.

On November 21, 2016, Zyanna Harris was a passenger in a school bus when it rolled over and collided with a tree. Zyanna died from blunt force trauma.

Johnthony Walker, who had received his commercial driver’s license in April of 2016, had been in another accident while driving for Durham School Services, L.P. and National Express, LLC in September. In the past 24 months, Durham School Services has been involved in 346 crashes.

Defectively designed bus

The attorneys have also filed suit against Thomas Built Buses, Inc., a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, LLC. The bus in question was defectively designed because it did not include seatbelts. Additionally, the bus contained a window system that failed to prevent contact between the window glass and the roadway and failed to minimize the possibility of occupant ejection in foreseeable overturn/slide events.

“The negligence case against Walker and Durham School Services is clear. We also know that the bus manufacturer could have delivered a safer product into the stream of commerce by equipping this bus with seat belts and glazed shatter-resistant windows. The real question is whether those features would have lessened the harm to these innocent school children in this crash? That’s what I have been hired to determine,” said Aziz. Mr.

Aziz served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the In Re: Hurricane Rita Evacuation Bus Fire, where he played a lead role in the $88 million settlement of the Hurricane Rita evacuation bus fire disaster, in which 23 elderly citizens perished. He has also served on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Victoria Bus Litigation, where he represented 37 claimants from a single bus rollover accident near Victoria, Texas and resulted in a global settlement of $10.8 million.

Denver Jury Awards $52 Million Woman Paralyzed in Car Wreck

Attorney Tom Metier

Attorney Tom Metier

A Denver jury has awarded a Colorado Springs woman $52 million in a personal injury lawsuit. She suffered a cervical fracture and spinal cord injury at C6-7 in a vehicle collision and rollover.

Attorney Tom Metier, senior managing partner of the Metier Law Firm, represented the plaintiff along with attorneys Jim Gilbert, Phil Chupik, Tony Bolson and Anne Dieruf. With offices in Fort Collins, Denver, Cheyenne and Colorado Springs, Metier Law Firm focuses on brain and spine injury cases involving product liability, truck crashes, oil field injuries, motorcycle and auto crashes.

Four years ago, Mendy Brockman and her husband were driving southbound on Interstate 25 south of Castle Rock when a motorist crossed their lane in front of them to make a U-turn at an emergency median crossing.

The motorist hit Brockman’s car, causing it to roll several times. The accident resulted in the permanent paralysis of her legs and substantial loss of use of her hands. The woman is a wife and mother of four young children.

The lawsuit involved both a negligence claim against the at-fault driver and a product liability claim against the seatbelt manufacturer — Japan-based Takata Corp. — and the windshield maker of her Honda vehicle.

“This case had some unique challenges and, as always, I learned a lot in this process. We had a millennial jury, with six jurors ranging in age from 20-29. None of the jurors had children, except for one woman who was pregnant,” Metier said. “After deliberating for 8.5 hours, the jury returned their verdict in the exact amount I requested in closing argument.”