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Automobile accident

April 26, 2011
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Trial Report

Melissa Miller v. Crossroads Rehabilitation Center, Inc. and John Gocke
Marion Superior Court # 10
No. 49D10-0901-CT-002353
Injuries: Multiple physical symptoms that included headaches, dizziness, memory loss, nausea, bilateral ankle pain, right shoulder pain, mouth pain, cervical pain, thoracic pain, and lumbar pain.
Date: May 19, 2010
Judge or Jury Trial: Jury trial
Judge: Hon. David Dreyer
Disposition: Plaintiff verdict after reduction for comparative fault: $848,800
Plaintiff Attorney: Jason A. Shartzer, Louis Buddy Yosha, and Richard A. Cook, Yosha Cook Shartzer & Tisch
Defendant Attorney: Andrea Simmons, The Pollack Law Firm
Case Information: On Feb. 15, 2007, at approximately 9 a.m., plaintiff was driving her 2003 Chevy Impala northbound on North Arlington Avenue approaching East 21st Street in Indianapolis. The defendant was driving a 1997 Ford semi in the left northbound lane on North Arlington Avenue. As plaintiff was proceeding through the intersection in the right northbound lane, the defendant attempted to make a wide right hand turn onto East 21st Street. and collided with the driver’s side of the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Liability was in dispute. The plaintiff argued that defendant should have kept a proper lookout and that defendant swung so far wide to make the right turn that a portion of his trailer was actually in the dedicated left-turn lane. The plaintiff argued that had the defendant looked, he would have seen the plaintiff’s vehicle. The police officer that investigated the collision testified that a portion of the defendant’s trailer was in the dedicated left turn lane at the time of the collision. The defendant argued that the plaintiff should have seen the semi’s right turn signal and known that the defendant was making a wide, right turn. The defendant also implied in argument that the plaintiff was on her cell phone at the time of the collision and introduced evidence that she was running late for work.  

Plaintiff initially refused medical attention at the scene of the collision and went to her job as a nurse for a medical doctor. She did, however, report her complaints of pain to her employer when she arrived at work, and later that day she sought medical treatment at St. Francis Hospital. She followed up with her family physician.

Plaintiff underwent MRI testing that revealed a broad-based, central disc herniation at C5-C6 with no stenosis or effacement. She was diagnosed with right cervical radiculopathy and underwent a CT scan of her head which was ultimately negative. She continued to have multiple physical symptoms and continued to undergo treatment that included consultation with a neurologist and MRIs.

Plaintiff stated in her discovery responses and testified in her deposition that she suffered from multiple injuries to multiple parts of her body with the most severe injury, in her opinion, being a brain injury. Although Melissa experienced brain injury-type symptoms, the objective tests and the information from her treating physicians was insufficient to support a claim for a brain injury related to the collision. The plaintiff’s claim for damages at trial was focused on her herniated disc at C5-C6. One of plaintiff’s treating doctors testified in advance of trial that the herniation was caused by the collision and that it was a permanent condition.

Plaintiff incurred approximately $47,600 in medical expenses, almost half of which was diagnostic in nature. She did not make a claim for wage loss. Plaintiff was 34 at the time of trial and there was testimony from her doctor that she would have future medical expenses related to her herniated disc and that she would likely become a surgical candidate.

Prior to trial, plaintiff’s last demand was $148,000 (which was withdrawn prior to trial) and the defendant’s last offer was $50,000. After the first day of trial, defendant increased its offer to $100,000. Also, prior to trial, plaintiff had suggested high/low parameters of $465,000 and $75,000. The defendant rejected the high/low parameters.

At the conclusion of a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $1 million, but the jury also allocated the plaintiff a little more than 15 percent comparative fault. The judgment for the plaintiff after the reduction for comparative fault was $848,800.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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