2022 Trials and Verdicts

February 8, 2022

Defense Verdict in Med-Mal Case Involving Misplaced Screw

Ken Burke and Shane Chapman obtained a defense verdict in a St. Clair County, Illinois, medical malpractice case. The plaintiff claimed the defendant neurosurgeon negligently failed to remove a misplaced pedicle screw when she allegedly developed new neuropathic pain down her left leg after spine surgery. She asked the jury to award $730,000 to $830,000. The jury returned a defense verdict after less than 30 minutes of deliberation.

Defense Verdict in Mini-Golf Case

Corey L. Kraushaar and Ashley R. Moya obtained a complete defense verdict after a two-day jury trial in Taney County where plaintiff asked for $100,000. Plaintiff claimed she fell at a mini-golf course when the blacklights failed to work resulting in darkness. Two other individuals also stumbled in same area. Plaintiff suffered multiple fractures to her nose, unconsciousness, a laceration over her right eye, bruising on her face and left leg, and scarring. Plaintiff underwent three surgeries, but did not submit the medical bills at trial.

Summary Judgment in $1.25-Million Negligent Procurement Case

Corey L. Kraushaar and Tyler A. McElroy obtained a $1.25-million summary judgment in favor of the defendant insurance agent (client) on plaintiff’s negligent procurement of insurance claim related to a fire loss. The Court found that: 1) the plaintiff could not have been included as a mortgage on the policy since it lacked that status and would have voided coverage for material misrepresentation, and, 2) had the plaintiff been included as an additional insured then the fire protective safeguard endorsement barred recovery.

Successful Result in Personal Injury Case Involving Amputation

Denise Baker-Seal represented a third-party defendant employer of the plaintiff truck driver in a case against a scrap metal operator. The plaintiff’s injuries occurred on the defendant’s property and included a partial amputation of the plaintiff’s foot. Our client was dismissed during trial, which ensures the workers’ compensation carrier will recover its substantial lien from the $3-million plaintiff’s verdict.

Great Outcome in Property Case

Dan Hasenstab represented an insurance company regarding 10 different property insurance claims. Plaintiff asked the jury for more than $311,000 in total damages. The jury found in the insurer’s favor on eight of the 10 claims and only awarded $19,600 on the remaining two claims. A pretrial offer of more than double the verdict amount was previously rejected.

Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

Ken Burke, Kara Burke, and Nathan Perlmutter obtained a defense verdict in a wrongful death medical negligence case filed in St. Clair County, Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant neurosurgeon negligently injured the vertebral artery during an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, resulting in a stroke and death of the patient. Client surgeon performed an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) on plaintiff’s decedent who was 73 years old at the time. During the surgery, the left vertebral artery was injured, a known complication of the procedure. The patient lost 4 liters of blood. As a result, decedent sustained a stroke and passed a week later. Plaintiff (daughter) brought a wrongful death claim against the surgeon. At trial, the allegations of negligence were: 1) performed unnecessary surgery at C5-6 where the perforation occurred; 2) improperly drilled the uncinate process resulting in the vertebral artery perforation; 3) failed to abort the surgery after the bleeding was controlled; 4) failed to order immediate post-op imaging in the form of an MRI, MRA or CTA; and 5) failed to timely transfer. The plaintiff sought $4.3 million at trial, but the jury returned a defense verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.

Coverage Dispute Opinion Upheld on Appeal

Brown & James attorneys successfully represented a national insurance carrier with respect to underinsured motorist coverage dispute at both trial and appellate level. The matter involved the application of the Other Insurance provision and language relating to the insurer’s obligation to pay policy funds where another carrier had already paid in excess of the policy limits with respect to an accident involving a vehicle not owned by the insured. After the circuit court denied a motion for summary judgment, successfully represented the insurer at a bench trial in Cass County, Missouri. The Circuit Court then entered a lengthy written judgment in favor of Nationwide and the Circuit Court’s opinion was upheld on appeal in the Court of Appeal for the Western District of Missouri by way of published opinion.

Defense Win in MMPA Consumer Fraud Case

Matthew Koehler won a trial in St. Louis County in a case involving the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and breach of contract claims. The client was a roofing contractor from which the plaintiffs were seeking damages of more than $33,000 plus statutory attorneys’ fees. The jury returned with a defense verdict.

Successful Missouri Supreme Court Ruling in Class-Action Case

Brown & James attorneys achieved a successful result for their client in a class-action case that went to the Missouri Supreme Court. The trial court originally sided with their client on a motion to compel arbitration of the named plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff appealed to the Western District after the defendant prevailed at the trial court, and the appellate court held the trial judge improperly granted the motion to compel arbitration because the arbitration agreement—by default—selected an arbitration organization that was no longer available. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court fully agreed with all of their arguments and said the delegation clause applied and the issue of whether the agreement was enforceable without the chosen arbitrator was itself a question for a substitute arbitrator. In an enormous footnote, the court also agreed that, even without the delegation clause, their client would have won on the merits. The court adopted all arguments for why this case was distinguishable from a prior decision at the center of this case, Hunter, in that footnote.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Case

Joseph Callahan and Zachary Brand secured summary judgment on both compensatory and punitive damages against their client, a psychiatrist charged with negligence in failing to order a 14-year-old child to be admitted to the hospital following an emergency room evaluation the night before her death by suicide. The trial was set to begin May 16 in St. Charles County before Judge Michael Fagras. Plaintiff’s latest demand was in excess of $1 million. The motion hinged on the testimony of plaintiff’s only expert who testified the suicide the next day was the result of a sudden decision secondary to an intervening, precipitating event wherein the teen went on the Internet and reacted to bullying by her classmates. Judge Fagras concluded the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony as to their client’s negligence “was speculative at best and void of any evidentiary value.”

Defense Win in $8-Million Bad Faith Case

T. Michael Ward and Taylor Connolly secured a defense win in a jury trial for their insurance company client. Plaintiff sought damages against defendant insurance company, asserting counts for equitable garnishment and bad faith, arising out of an underlying judgment entered in favor of plaintiff against the defendant insurance company’s insureds back in February 2020. In the equitable garnishment/ bad faith case, plaintiff claimed the insurance company waived its applicable policy exclusion that negated coverage for the underlying action and judgment as well as claimed the insurance company acted in bad faith for refusing to accept policy limit demands to settle the underlying case. The stipulated amount of the damages sought by plaintiff at the equitable garnishment/bad faith jury trial totaled $8,087,397.27. After two and a half hours, the jury returned a complete defense verdict, finding in favor of the insurance company.

Defense Win in Veterinarian Liability Case

Miranda Bukowski won a bench trial in a case involving surgery on a dog.  Plaintiff claimed the veterinarian failed to fully explain the dog’s condition and treatment and was not up front about the prognosis prior to a second surgery. The veterinarian testified that in fact she did fully explain the dog’s prognosis to the plaintiff, in person, following the initial exploratory surgery. She testified that, in follow-up conversations, she did not go into great detail with the plaintiff, as she had previously explained everything and time was of the essence. The judge entered judgment against the plaintiff and in favor of the vet clinic and doctor.

Summary Judgment in Favor of Insurers Affirmed by the Eighth Circuit

Brown & James attorneys achieved a favorable result for their clients AMCO and Depositors Insurance Company with an 8th Circuit decision affirming a summary judgment wherein the courts upheld the employment-related practices exclusion in a commercial general liability policy and umbrella policy as valid and not ambiguous. This was a big win potentially relieving the insurance client from paying judgments in excess of $20-million entered following the entry of a 537.065 agreement. It was a nearly three-year battle with a successful conclusion.