Motor vehicle accident: rear-end collision

September 9, 2015

Trial Reports: Reports on recent Indiana cases submitted by the lawyers involved.

Motor vehicle accident: rear-end collision

Name of Case: Dennis R. Thomas and Luisa Thomas v. Phyllis A. Isenhower

Court Case Number: 72C01-1307-CT-000027

Injuries: neck, back, wrist, hip, headaches

Court: Scott Circuit Court 1

Court Date: July 21-23, 2015

Trial Type: Jury trial

Judge: Hon. Roger L. Duvall

Disposition: Jury verdict for plaintiffs

Plaintiff Attorney: Heidi Kendall-Sage and R. Patrick Magrath; Madison, Indiana

Defendant Attorney: William H. Mullis; Mitchell, Indiana

Insurance: Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Company

Case Information: This case arose after a bumper-to-bumper accident in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane in Scottsburg, Indiana. On Sept. 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 days. The evidence at trial indicated there was virtually no physical damage to either car (small scuff on plaintiffs’ plastic rear bumper cover). Plaintiffs 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 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.

Submitting Attorney: William H. Mullis