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Featured Trial Reports

Caption:  Dennis R. Thomas and Luisa Thomas v. Phyllis A. Isenhower
Court:  Scott Circuit Court
Cause Number:  Cause No. 72C01-1307-CT-000027
Judge:  Hon. Roger L. Duvall
Carrier:  Western Reserve Mutual Insurance
Claim Representative:  Jeana Horner
Damages Awarded:  $1,709.00 (Dennis), $3,911.77 (Luisa) (Total $5,620.77)
Incurred Medicals:  $8,419.00 (Dennis), $12,594.27 (Luisa) (Total $21,013.27)
Plaintiffs’ Counsel:  Heidi Kendall-Sage and Patrick Magrath of Alcorn Sage Schwartz & Magrath, LLP
Defense Counsel:  William H. Mullis of William H. Mullis, P.C.

Synopsis:

This case arose after bumper-to-bumper accident in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane in Scottsburg, Indiana.  On September 17, 2011, the defendant’s foot released pressure from the brake pedal, and her car rolled forward and tapped the rear bumper of the plaintiffs’ car. Plaintiff wife was taken by EMS to the local hospital for examination for neck, back, right hip, and right wrist pain (all x-rays negative).  Nine days later, both plaintiffs next sought care and began courses of treatment with a local chiropractor with follow-up treatment by a local physical therapist.

The jury trial in the Scott Circuit Court lasted three (3) days in July 2015.  The evidence at trial indicated there was virtually no physical damage to either car (“small scuff” on plaintiffs’ plastic rear bumper cover). Each plaintiff testified concerning their immediate onset of pain, the nature and severity of their pain, and that they had lingering pain from the accident.  Plaintiff wife testified that her primary care provider (nurse practitioner) recommended an MRI but they could not afford it.  Plaintiffs’ treating chiropractor and physical therapist testified concerning plaintiffs’ complaints, conditions, and their respective treatment.  The defendant testified that she was not sure what happened (foot released pressure from brake pedal or slipped off brake pedal, another car pushed hers into plaintiffs’, or plaintiffs backed into her car).  The defense also called a consulting chiropractor to testify that the plaintiffs’ treatment was excessive and the charges unnecessary and that their claims of severe pain and residual pain were not caused by the accident. The consulting chiropractor also testified that if plaintiffs’ conditions had not substantially improved within a couple of weeks after the accident they should have “tried something else.”

The jury deliberated for two (2) hours.

The parties submitted to mediation, and the last settlement positions were that plaintiffs demanded $20,000.00 (Dennis) and $30,000.00 (Luisa), and the defendant’s carrier offered $1,000.00 and $4,000.00,
respectively.

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Caption:  George Turner and Dawn Turner v. Diane Williams

Court:  Orange Circuit Court

Cause Number:  Cause No. 59C01-0711-PL-000349

Judge:  Larry R. Blanton

Carrier:  Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Company

Claim Representative:  Jeana Horner

Damages Awarded:  None—Defense Verdict

Incurred Medicals:  $65,000.00

Plaintiffs’ Counsel:  Larry R. Medlock of Medlock Law Office

Defense Counsel:  William H. Mullis of William H. Mullis, P.C.

Synopsis:

This claim arose from a “no contact” accident in rural Orange County, Indiana.  On November 18, 2005, plaintiff Dawn Turner and her front seat passenger (though it was never clear that the plaintiff was actually driving the vehicle) ran off the county road, went down a hill, and struck a tree.  Plaintiff sustained a severe closed head injury.  She was transported by air ambulance to the University of Louisville Hospital where she was in ICU for six (6) days and release on November 28, 2005.  Remarkably, her medical bills totaled less than $65,000.00.

Plaintiff claimed the defendant was negligent in causing her to leave the roadway.  On the evening of the accident, the plaintiff and several of her girlfriends met at one of their homes
and began drinking beer and whiskey. They drank for a while and then went for a joyride in plaintiff’s SUV.  Testimony from one of the young ladies established that they took turns “car surfing” on the hood of the moving vehicle in the night air.  The defendant learned of their joyride and went to look for them; she found them stopped in the middle of the road, the plaintiff sitting behind the steering wheel, and the others standing near her open door. The defendant tried to convince them to let her take them home, and two of the ladies got into her car.  As the defendant drove past the plaintiff’s vehicle, in her rearview mirror she saw the remaining passenger push the plaintiff to the side, apparently getting in the driver’s seat.  The SUV then took off and began chasing the defendant.  The defendant tried to slow down to turn into her driveway, but plaintiff’s vehicle was fast approaching so she increased her speed to avoid being hit from behind.  As the defendant rounded another turn, she noticed the headlights in her rearview mirror left the roadway and went down a hill.  Plaintiff’s theory of the case was that the defendant intentionally slowed her vehicle to force the plaintiff to try to avoid her, resulting in plaintiff losing control and leaving the roadway.

Prior to trial, plaintiffs’ settlement demand was $18,000.00.  The defendant’s last settlement offer was $3,000.00.

The jury trial in Orange Circuit Court lasted three days in August 2010.  Plaintiff offered no medical evidence other than her medical records, and the only testimony at trial concerned the liability facts.  The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff’s conduct was the cause of her accident and injuries. The plaintiffs did not appeal

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Caption:  Daryla L. Stoltz Maxwell and Mark A. Maxwell v. Evansville Roadhouse, LLC
Court:  Vanderburgh Superior Court
Cause Number:  Cause No. 82D03-0404-CT-1786
Judge:  J. Douglas Knight
Carrier:  Argonaut Great Central Insurance
Claim Representative: Frank Totton
Damages Awarded: None—Defense Verdict
Incurred Medicals: $160,000.00
Plaintiffs’ Counsel: Richard O. Hawley, Jr. of Robert John & Associates
Defense Counsel: William H. Mullis of William H. Mullis, P.C.

Synopsis:

This case arose after a slip-and-fall at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Evansville, Indiana. On December 27, 2003, as she and her family were being led to their table by a hostess, plaintiff Daryla Maxwell slipped and fell.  The complaint alleged she slipped on peanut shells or peanut dust, and in defense the restaurant alleged comparative fault.  There were some peanut shells on the floor in the area of her fall.

Ms. Maxwell sustained a fracture of her coronoid process in her left elbow.  By mid-February 2004 she complained of symptoms of carpal tunnel, and she later underwent carpal tunnel release procedures for both wrists (late 2004 and early 2005).  Her symptoms later returned, so she again underwent the procedures (September 2006). In late 2004, Ms. Maxwell sought treatment for neck and back pain.  She had a cervical surgery in June 2005 (installed artificial disc in her neck), and in February 2006 she had a two-level lumbar fusion (L3 to L5 with rods and screws).  When her medical treatment was finished, her total medical expenses were in excess of $160,000.00.  There were no pre-trial settlement negotiations.

The jury trial in the Vanderburgh Superior Court lasted four days in April 2009.  Both parties offered testimony from both liability and independent medical experts.  Ms. Maxwell testified that she fell on her buttocks with her feet slipping out from under her, landing feet forward.  In contrast, one nearby customer testified that Ms. Maxwell’s position immediately after her fall was with her head in the direction of travel. There was also extensive testimony that Ms. Maxwell had been treated for neck and back pain from September through November 2003 before her fall.  The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, finding that the cause of the fall was Ms. Maxwell’s own fault.  The Maxwells did not appeal.