Jury rejects Plaintiff’s claim that fall caused debilitating neurological injury.
Trial Report from Daniel J O’Connor, Jr
Plaintiff, age 44, an over-the-road truck driver, slipped on a patch of black-ice at defendant’s fuel center and store near Flagstaff, Arizona, allegedly suffering disabling and permanent injuries to his back and knee. Plaintiff was transporting freight to Texas when the fall took place, so he filed a worker’s compensation claim. During treatment, plaintiff’s worker’s comp doctor found Plaintiff had a likely hereditary neurological disease (neuropathy) causing weakness and atrophy of the muscles below the knees. Plaintiff treated significantly for his injuries, eventually undergoing two back surgeries to correct what was believed to be radicular pain into the lower extremities. Plaintiff alleged the back injury, muscle atrophy, neuropathy were caused by the fall and resulting in his permanent disability.
Early in discovery, Defendant admitted liability for allowing the black-ice to exist without properly warning Plaintiff, but Defendant denied causation and damages. Plaintiff filed an Offer of Judgment for $2.3 million with his Complaint. Defendant filed an Offer of Judgment for $50,001 after plaintiff’s deposition.
During the six-day jury trial, Defendant conceded that Plaintiff suffered a knee injury in the fall, and possibly a sprain to his back. Plaintiff’s medical expert opined Plaintiff’s fall caused ALL of Plaintiff’s medical complaints, including his neuropathy. Defendant established through medical experts that Plaintiff’s back surgeries were not the appropriate medical care for Plaintiff, with a preexisting underlying neuropathy causing his symptoms. Defendant also used Plaintiff’s medical records to suggest Plaintiff knew of his neuropathy for at least five years before his fall.
Plaintiff claimed approximately $750,000 in medical expenses, a loss of earning capacity of $1.4 million, and $1.6 million for future care and services.
During closing, plaintiff asked for $6 million in damages. Defendant argued plaintiff only hurt his knee in the fall, and he deserved treatment for that injury, but the fall was not the cause of Plaintiff’s current medical condition or disability. The jury deliberated for six hours returning a verdict for Plaintiff for $141,161.93.
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