jury seated in courtroom

90 Seconds on Tort-Reform and “Outrageous” Jury Verdicts

Insurance companies have enormous marketing budgets to spend on propaganda to mislead the public into believing that there is an insurance and lawsuit crisis. They try to persuade the public that victims and attorneys are the ones responsible for rising medical costs and high insurance premiums.

For example, almost everyone has heard about the 79-year-old woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico who was awarded millions of dollars after winning a lawsuit against McDonald’s for burns she suffered when hot coffee spilled on her lap. What the insurance industry really did not want the public to know are the following facts:

  • When she removed the lid from the container of scalding hot coffee, it spilled on her lap causing second and third degree burns to her buttocks, her thighs and her genitals.
  • She spent eight days in the hospital for surgical skin grafting procedures and afterwards, she spent the next three weeks recuperating at her daughter’s home.
  • At first, she wrote to McDonald’s on her own and asked them to please lower the temperature of their coffee. She also asked them if they would pay her $2,000.00 out-of pocket medical expenses.
  • After making these reasonable requests, McDonald’s offered her the paltry sum of $8,000.00 When they refused to pay her out-of-pocket expenses, only then did she finally hire a lawyer who brought the case to trial.
  • At trial, the medical experts explained that coffee served at 170 degrees would cause serious burns within 3 72 seconds.
  • McDonald’s supervisors testified that they did not lower the temperature of their coffee even after they had received more than 700 burn complaints from other customers.
  • The jury awarded the woman $200,000 to compensate her for the damages she suffered. However, they believed that she was partially at fault, thereby reducing the actual award to $160,000. Next, the jury awarded her $2,700,000 in punitive damages, which only represented approximately two days of coffee sales for McDonald’s.
  • Next, the judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000.00. The bottom line is this: The verdict was substantially reduced, and McDonald’s never really had to pay the amount that the jury had originally determined as fair.

Just remember, if you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you’ve tried being reasonable when the insurance company or at-fault person refuses to be reasonable, you can always contact an attorney at Bell & Pollock to help you formulate your legal game plan.

– Dana N. Miller, Esq.

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Case Results

WE KNOW HOW TO WIN

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver. As a result of the motor vehicle accident, client was rendered a quadriplegic and needed a life care plan.
Outcome: $9,600,000

CASE: Against Insurance company for failure to pay for property damage after a gas and fire explosion.
Outcome: $1,600,000

CASE: Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose a descending aorta aneurism, resulting in death.
Outcome: $1,300,000

CASE: Neck and back injuries from car accident. Client had ongoing symptoms and needed injections for attempted remediation of pain.
Settled for $485,000

CASE: Client was injured in a 2 vehicle collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion and multiple injuries to the neck.
Outcome: $6,000,000

CASE: Client was in her car and was T-Boned by a commercial vehicle. Her cerebral spinal fluid leaked and she suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury with neck and lumbar (low back) injuries. Her neck injury caused radiating pain, numbness and tingling in her arms.
Outcome: $3,400,000

CASE: Client was driving on a rural road when another car crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision in the snow and ice. Client did physical work for a living. Both knees were injured, along with a neck injury.
Outcome: $2,300,000

CASE: Client was driving on South Parker road when another vehicle rapidly changed lanes and rear-ended the client. That vehicle was cited for careless driving. The collision caused a concussion with traumatic brain Injury. Client missed time from work and had a positive correlation between brain scan and neuropsychological test results.
Outcome: $950,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a dump truck, was then knocked forward and hit another vehicle. Client had a concussion with traumatic brain injury. Client underwent a brain scan which showed hypoperfusion, correlated with her concussion symptoms. Client suffered neck injuries and injuries to her low back.
Outcome: $650,000

CASE: Client was rear-ended. The mechanism of injury from the forces in the collision caused her neck injury and at the same time, damaged her organs inside her throat. Client had swallowing and choking issues.
Outcome: $1,250,000

CASE: Client was in a motor vehicle accident. Both injections in the neck rendered some temporary relief. The Injections were transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Surgery was recommended on the lumbar (low back). The low back was injured by the forces in the collisions.
Outcome: $933,000

CASE: The client was driving in her car and was rear-ended thereby causing injuries to her lower back and neck. Client also suffered a concussion. Client had to undergo facet injections multiple times, through multiple procedures. Client also had cognitive issues which required cognitive training and therapy.
Outcome: $400,000

CASE: Client was entering a highway from an on ramp and was rear-ended by a commercial van. Client tested positive for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and failed conservative treatment. Client underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgey, which involved removal of the first rib to attempt to relieve pressure in the thoracic outlet. Client also suffered a back injury.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver, who crossed the center line of the road. Client underwent multiple surgeries and could not work. Client was late 40s and needed a modified life care plan.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a tow truck driver who was a diabetic. The diabetic at fault party was a non-compliant diabetic and claimed he had a syncope episode, and was “blacked out”. Client had a preexisting back condition known and the forces from the collision aggravated, or made worse, the preexisting back condition in addition to, causing neck injuries.
Outcome: $350,000

CASE: Client was a passenger in a car where the driver fell asleep on a country road in the early morning hours. The car rolled multiple times. Client had eye injuries, facial injuries and neck and knee injuries.
Outcome: $850,000

CASE: Client was on the job, driving her own car, when she was rear-ended. She suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury and pursued Workers Compensation Claim.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice in Central City. He suffered back injuries, that did not require injections.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk in front of a business. She had to have knee surgery and multiple injections in her back.
Outcome: $175,000

CASE: Client was visiting a friend who was renting a house. Client tripped on untreated, dangerous section of deck and injured his back.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE:Client was rear ended and needed fusion spinal surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE:Client was rear-ended and had to have rotator cuff surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Settled for $65,000

CASE:Client was at Denver International Aiport traveling through Denver, slipped and fell and broke her ankle.
Settled for $118,750

CASE:Client was exposed to mold in a multi-family dwelling that was caused by leaking water.
Settled for $125,000

CASE:Motorcycle accident, reconstructive surgery, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological injuries
Settled for $1,275,000

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