$990,633 Awarded to Arizona Plaintiff for Damages Caused by Cab Company
The Plaintiff was represented by attorneys Brett Slavicek of The Slavicek Law Firm and Scott Palumbo.
Discount Cab claimed that the driver of the Ford Ranger was in a 40mph speed zone but travelling at a rate of 63mph and blamed the truck driver. The truck driver denied this allegation stating that he was not speeding. Plaintiff had previously settled with the truck driver’s insurer for policy limits.
Discount Cab blamed the plaintiff, a young woman in her 20’s, saying she enhanced her damages by failing to use a properly functioning seat belt. The plaintiff denied there was a seat belt available for her to use adding that even if there was one for her to use, it would have only been a belt across her lap. Therefore, plaintiff attorney agreed she would have still sustained similar injuries, if not worse.
The plaintiff suffered serious injuries. The injuries include lacerations to her face and injuries to her eyelid and eyebrow. She underwent multiple surgeries to help repair these injuries and her attorneys argued she’d need a future surgery.
Past medical expenses for the plaintiff totaled $147,041.35.
Plaintiff’s treating plastic surgeon was called to testify in regard to the treatment of the plaintiff. In addition to the plastic surgeon, the plaintiff’s attorneys called Patrick Hannon, EdD, to present biomechanical opinions in relation to plaintiff’s expected injuries if she had been wearing a lap belt, if in fact one was available to her.
Plaintiff’s attorneys also called Mark Allen, automobile consultant, to testify that he did not believe there was a seat belt available for the plaintiff to use on the date the accident occurred, lap belt or otherwise.
On the defendant’s side, Discount Cab/Camara’s attorneys called Robert Anderson, their accident reconstruction, biomechanical, human factor, and automobile inspection expert to testify that in his opinion, defendant Hammond was speeding by going 63 mph in a 40 mph zone. He also testified that he believed a lap belt was readily available to the plaintiff to use on the date of the collision but that she made the decision not to utilize it. Furthermore, had she worn said lap belt she would not have suffered the more serious injuries as she claims, but instead she would have only sustained a bruise to her forehead and a laceration on her tongue. He testified that the Discount Cab’s driver, Camara, did not behave in an unreasonable fashion by failing to yield to defendant Hammond’s allegedly speeding vehicle.
At the start of litigation, the plaintiff entered into a covenant not to execute with the truck driver for an amount that was undisclosed to the jury. Prior to the trial, the plaintiff had demanded $325,000 from Discount Cab/Camara, however, Discount Cab/Camara counteroffered with an offer of $305,000. The case went to trial over $20,000.
The 6 day trial came down to the plaintiff’s closing argument in which the plaintiff lawyers asked the jury to find Discount Cab/Camara 100% at fault, to award all past and future medical expenses and general damages, and for the plaintiff’s nonuse of a seatbelt to not cause any reductions in damages.
For the defendant, Discount Cab’s attorneys asked the jury to find the plaintiff’s damages to total $250,000 with the breakdown of fault being as follows: 90% to the plaintiff for failure to wear a seat belt, to the truck driver defendant, and 2% to Discount Cab/Camara. Defendant’s attorney argued to the jury, plaintiff should therefore receive the total sum of $5,000.
The jury retired for discussion. After less than an hour of deliberation, the jury returned a for plaintiff in the amount of $990,633, with 100% fault to Discount Cab/Camara, and no reductions in damages for the alleged failure to use a seatbelt by the plaintiff. The jury awarded plaintiff exactly what the plaintiff asked the jury to award.
Representing the plaintiff was Brett L. Slavicek of The Slavicek Law Firm and Scott I. Palumbo of Palumbo, Wolfe & Palumbo, P.C.