Case Conclusion Date: 09.11.2009
Practice Area: Personal injury
Outcome: $2.4 million jury verdict
Description: A Sonoma County jury found defendant Acme Transport legally responsible for a 2005 Santa Rosa car crash that injured 33-year-old Jane Doe’s hand. Doe’s non-dominant hand was injured when Acme’s employee, driving a van, ran a red light at an intersection and broadsided Doe’s car. Doe’s window was down and Doe’s fingers became caught between the door jamb and pavement when the vehicle tipped over. The crush injured the tops of her fingers and resulted in some functional impairment and chronic pain. She was unable to return to work as a bank training coordinator and was involuntarily terminated from her job when her Family Medical Leave ran out in March 2006. By June 2006, Doe’s situation forced her and her family to move across country, where Doe’s parents lived. Shortly before trial, Acme admitted it caused the collision but asserted that Doe failed to mitigate her damages because she had not returned to work. Sousa’s medical restriction from work arguably ended in July 2006. Defendant further argued that Sousa had not had any real medical care or treatment since January 2007. Contending that Sousa’s decision to return to school instead of obtaining a job was a lifestyle choice, defendant focused its case on Sousa’s decision not to return to work. McGuinn and Cooper, Sousa’s attorneys, were brought into the case two months before it was initially set for trial in 2008. After getting court orders to add experts in orthopedics, pain management, economics, and life-care planning, Doe served a formal Offer to Compromise for Acme’s $1 million insurance policy limits in November 2008. Acme’s offer was $250,000 up until ten days before trial, when Acme served its own formal offer for $800,000. The case was tried for four weeks before the Honorable Mark Tansil in Santa Rosa, California. With prevailing party costs and interest from the date of service of Smith’s formal Offer to Compromise, the total judgment will be over $2.4 million. Over $1 million of the verdict was for general damages.