News from Around the State: Trials and Verdicts

WDC Journal Edition: Summer 2020

William B. Heffern III, et al. v. GEICO Cas. Co., et al.
Ozaukee County Case No. 18-CV-354
February 2020

Facts: This case involved a multi-vehicle accident on a dark, icy highway in which plaintiff was rear-ended but did not know which of two drivers listed in the accident report hit him. Both defendant drivers denied striking him. Both defendant drivers were insured by American Family.


Plaintiff claimed permanent injuries to his neck and back with radicular symptoms, shoulder blade pain and headaches as a result of the accident. He claimed he needed future chiropractic care and radiofrequency ablations. The defense IME doctor opined that the plaintiff’s injuries were related to a pre-existing degenerative condition, not the accident.


Issues for Trial: Both liability and damages were contested.


At Trial: At trial, the court entered a directed verdict in favor of one of the defendants, Kelly Heyden, finding there was no evidence from which a jury could conclude that Ms. Heyden struck the plaintiff. A motion for directed verdict brought by the other defendant, Rebecca Blau, was denied, and claims against Blau were submitted to a jury. The jury found no negligence against Blau. For damages, the jury awarded plaintiff his claimed medical bills of $73,000, $27,000 for past pain and suffering, $50,000 for future medical care, and $0 for future pain and suffering.


Plaintiff’s Final Pre-Trial Demand: $100,000

Defendant’s Final Pre-Trial Offer: Defense Costs

Verdict: $0


For more information, please contact Brandon J. Robison at brobison@amfam.com.

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Marsha Tarney v. Am. Fam. Mut. Ins. Co., et al.
Milwaukee County Case No. 18-CV-6631
January 2020

Facts: This case arose from a two-vehicle accident in a bank parking lot. Plaintiff was stopped waiting in line for the ATM when the defendant backed her vehicle into the rear driver’s side corner of plaintiff’s car, causing some scratches and dents to the bumper cover but no other visible damage. Plaintiff claimed that she heard a big “boom” but her car was not pushed forward and she did not strike anything in the vehicle. She did not have any pain at the accident scene and did not request an ambulance when she called 911.


Issues for Trial: The parties stipulated to liability. Plaintiff claimed permanent neck and back injuries requiring future chiropractic care based on a report from Bryan Gerondale, DC. Defendants argued that plaintiff had only a temporary aggravation of pre-existing chronic neck pain that resolved within one month of the subject accident, based on an independent record review.


At Trial: At trial, plaintiff asked for $9,340.46 in past medical bills, an unspecified amount for future chiropractic treatment, $45,000 for past pain and suffering, and $160,000 for future pain and suffering. Defendants asked the jury to award $482 for past medical bills (one month of treatment) and a nominal amount for past pain and suffering. The jury awarded $5,000 for past medical bills and no amount for pain and suffering.


Plaintiff’s Final Pre-Trial Demand: $25,000

Defendant’s Final Pre-Trial Offer: $10,000

Verdict: $5,000


For more information, please contact Brandon J. Robison at brobison@amfam.com.

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Alisyn A. Bell v. Jennifer R. Wolf, et al.
Ozaukee County Case No. 18-CV-439
January 2020

Facts: This case arose from a single-vehicle accident on a highway. Plaintiff claimed that the defendant crossed the center line, causing plaintiff to swerve and lose control of her vehicle.


Issues for Trial: Liability and damages were disputed. The defendant did not think she crossed the center line. Plaintiff claimed neck, back, and right shoulder injuries that required a surgery. Her surgeon related the plaintiff’s shoulder injury and surgery to the accident, but did not believe she had a permanent injury or needed future care. Defendants argued that plaintiff required a shoulder surgery before the accident and the accident was therefore not the cause of her shoulder injury or treatment.


At Trial: At trial, plaintiff asked for $31,000 in past medical bills, $225 in wage loss, and $75,000 for past pain and suffering. Defendants asked the jury to award past medical bills of $500 for one month of treatment and a nominal amount for past pain and suffering. The jury found the defendant 100% negligent, but awarded plaintiff only $1,100 in past medical bills and $3,300 for past pain and suffering.


Plaintiff’s Final Pre-Trial Demand: $60,000

Defendant’s Final Pre-Trial Offer: $30,000

Verdict: $4,400


For more information, please contact Brandon J. Robison at brobison@amfam.com.

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Georgina V. Brett, et al. v. Am. Fam. Mut. Ins. Co., et al.
Racine County Case No. 17-CV-1540
October 2019

Facts: Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant turned left in front of their vehicle from his driveway and came to a stop in the middle of the road, causing them to swerve off the road to avoid a collision. The defendant said that he never stopped and was able to complete his left turn without incident and watched plaintiff lose control.


Issues for Trial: The parties stipulated to damages and tried liability.


At Trial: At trial, the jury found the plaintiff driver 80% at fault and the defendant only 20% at fault.


Verdict: $0 for plaintiff driver


For more information, please contact Brandon J. Robison at brobison@amfam.com.