Rear-End Auto; Directed Liability; Cervical Fusion/Discectomy

Style of Case: Walter Spearman v. Michael Sunley
Client:    Michael Sunley
Trial End Date:   5/20/2009
Court:    3rd Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois
Type of Case:    Rear-End Auto; Directed Liability; Cervical Fusion/Discectomy
Judge:    The Honorable Dennis Ruth
Reed Armstrong Lawyer who tried the case:  Stephen C. Mudge
Jury Verdict

Plaintiff claimed that he sustained a neck injury which resulted in a discectomy and fusion, medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement and loss of normal life. The accident occurred on December 11, 2002 and the surgery took place the following March. The case was originally tried to verdict and the jury only awarded medical bills in the amount of $62,807.47 with nothing else awarded for the other claimed elements. The appellate court reversed Judge Nicholas Byron’s order denying a new trial. The appellate court ordered a new trial on damages only.

The court in the second trial was incorrectly persuaded by the plaintiff’s firm that the issue of medical causation had been decided by the appellate court, and an order was entered barring a medical causation defense. The trial court instructed the jury as well that they had to award the medical bills in the above sum. On retrial, the defendant was barred from introducing evidence on medical causation and also barred from impeaching the plaintiff with the untruthful deposition testimony he gave when he denied he had prior neck problems. The court also severely limited the defense in its cross-examination regarding plaintiff’s prior disability. Plaintiff’s attorneys requested the jury award $500,000. Notwithstanding these rulings, the jury still awarded just a few hundred dollars less than the offer made in the previous trial.

The verdict in the second trial was $124,807.47, itemized as $62,807.47 as ordered by the judge for medical expenses, $20,000 for future medical expenses, $15,000 for pain and suffering, $15,000 for future pain and suffering, $5,000 for loss of normal life, $15,000 for loss of normal life in the future, and $2,000 for disfigurement. In the second trial, plaintiff was represented by Rodney Caffey, Charles Chapman, Brad Lakin and Dan Cohen of The Lakin Law Firm.

Last Demand:    $250,000
Verdict:    $124,807.47