Update: $0 Judgment Entered in Federal Lawsuit Tried by Carol Smith
Update: Judge Janet Neff has entered a final judgment in the federal lawsuit tried this spring by Attorney Carol Smith and her paralegal, Suzanne Fuhrman. The court agreed with Carol that the entire amount awarded by the Jury was either not applicable or subject to offsets. Carol’s clients will pay nothing.
The lawsuit was filed by a family physician from Chicago, who was visiting the Silver Lake State Park in west Michigan when he rented a Jeep Wrangler from Carol’s client to drive on the sand dunes. Following a one-hour guided tour by the client through the dunes, the plaintiff crested a steep dune at a high rate of speed, causing the vehicle to become airborne and roll. He blamed the accident on negligent instruction by the tour guide to give the vehicle full throttle while climbing the hills, as well as the lack of warning that this particular hill had become peaked. He suffered several fractures of his cervical and thoracic spine, requiring two surgical fusions to repair, and claimed that he would never return to work as a doctor.
Carol argued that the accident was caused by his own negligent operation of the vehicle and that he had assumed the risk of such a potentially-dangerous activity. After seven hours of deliberating, the Jury found heavy comparative negligence by the plaintiff, which prohibited any award of non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. He was awarded past wage loss, which was reduced by the significant percentage of negligence the Jury attributed to him and then completely offset by the disability benefits he has received. The plaintiff attorneys asked the Jury for $20 million. The lowest settlement demand received was $2 million. Congratulations to Carol and her clients!
Carol Smith is an attorney in our Livonia office where she focuses her practice on insurance defense matters. She has considerable litigation and trial experience representing clients in third-party auto claims, as well as first-party no-fault and uninsured motorist claims. Additionally, she advises clients on numerous areas of law, including insurance coverage, general liability, personal injury protection (PIP) and bodily injury claims. She may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.