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2014 - Fourth Quarter

Table of Contents
January 1, 2015

Trials This Quarter

Medical Malpractice Trials

Lee v. Eye Health Northwest, Multnomah County Case No. 1312-16844

Plaintiff alleged that she was a patient of Defendants for over 25 years.  During that time she had been treated repeatedly for glaucoma and related eye conditions.  In May of 2012 Plaintiff underwent a dilated exam at Defendant’s office.  After she left the office she had intense pain in her eye and she contacted Defendant’s office for guidance.  She was told by the receptionist that the doctors were out and to use artificial tears.  The next day Plaintiff returned to Defendant’s office and her eye pressure indicated an acute attack of glaucoma.  As a result of the untreated attack, Plaintiff lost part of her vision, is unable to drive, and had to retire from her career as a financial consultant.  She alleged that Defendant was negligent in failing to advise her to return immediately if she experienced pain after the dilated exam and failing to properly monitor Plaintiff’s glaucoma.  Plaintiff sought $1,000,000.00 in past and future medical expenses as well as $2,000,000.00 in non-economic damages. Defendant admitted that Plaintiff was a patient but denied all claims of negligence. Verdict - $507,715.00.

Bickel v. Providence Health and Services, Multnomah County Case No. 1309-13130

Mr. Bickel went to the hospital at Providence Newberg suffering from a heart attack.  He was treated and transported to defendant, Providence St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland where he was treated and ultimately released after a stint was placed in his right coronary artery.  Approximately 11 days later Mr. Bickel died from coronary artery disease. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Bickel’s death was the result of an incomplete diagnosis of the extent of Mr. Bickel’s the heart disease. He not only had right sided heart disease but also left sided.  They argued that the hospital and doctors were negligent in not recommending surgery. The estate sought $1,565,670.00. The defense denied any negligence. Defense Verdict.

MVA Trials

Dold v. Pearmine, Multnomah County Case No. 1309-13045

Plaintiff Dold alleged that he was driving west on Burnside when he approached the intersection of Burnside and Skyline.  Defendant Pearmine failed to yield the right of way and turned left from Skyline onto Burnside directly into plaintiff’s car causing a collision.  Plaintiff claimed right shoulder injuries including a SLAP tear. He sought medical bills and wage losses totaling $46,627.50 and non-economic damages of $300,000. Defendant Pearmine admitted fault, causation and that the medical bills alleged were reasonable and necessary.  She only disputed the amount of non-economic damages. Verdict – $76,670.50.

Preston v. Danquah, Multnomah County Case No. 1311-13356

Plaintiff was stopped for a stop sign when struck from behind by defendant.  Plaintiff alleged injuries to his neck and back as well as headaches.  Plaintiff sought $1,184.13 in unpaid medical expenses and $8,815.87 in non-economic damages.  The case was brought pursuant to ORS 20.080. Defendant contested liability and damages. Verdict – $8,055.00

Hergert v. McPhail, Multnomah County Case No. 1310-14581

Plaintiff Hergert was stopped for traffic with a car stopped behind him.  Defendant McPhail didn’t stop in time and struck the car behind plaintiff which was in turn pushed into plaintiff’s car.  Plaintiff alleged injuries to his neck, back and shoulders.  Plaintiff sought lost wages ($1,574.64), unpaid medical bills ($1,194.38) and non-economic damages ($7,230.98).  The case was brought pursuant to ORS 20.080. Defendant’s 20.080 offer was $4,620.00 “new money.”  At arbitration plaintiff was awarded $8,174.50. The defense appealed the arbitration award. Defendant denied liability, causation and damages. Verdict –  $7,595.19.

Dunn v. Brown, Multnomah County Case No. 1306-08205

Plaintiff Dunn was stopped at a red light when struck from behind by defendant Brown. Plaintiff alleges soft tissue injuries to her neck, back and shoulder along with disc bulges and protrusions from C4-C7 requiring a disc replacement surgery.  She sought damages including medical expenses ($103,680.76), impaired future earning capacity ($250,000), and non-economic damages ($450,000). Defendant alleges that she was stopped behind Plaintiff when Plaintiff may have had trouble with her clutch and lurched back into her. Verdict – $5,000.00.

Cummings v. Liu, Multnomah County Case No. 1305-06818

Plaintiff was hit in a multiple car pile-up. Defendant was several cars behind Plaintiff. Plaintiff already settled with another car that was also in the chain of vehicles. Plaintiff sought over $118,000 for back and neck strains. Defendant denied that he was in any way responsible for the crash. Defense Verdict.

Johnson v. Frank, Multnomah County Case No. 1309-12791

Plaintiff alleged that she was driving into an intersection and defendant ran a red light striking her and causing injury and loss of use of her vehicle. Her alleged injuries were neck and back strains and headaches. She sought $4,535.60 in for medical expenses, $4,500.00 for the loss of use of her vehicle and $964.40 for non-economic damages. Defendant alleged that Plaintiff ran the red light causing the crash.  Defendant also argued that Plaintiff is statutorily barred from collecting non-economic damages because she did not have liability insurance at the time of the crash. Defense Verdict.

Van Baalen v. Melthratter, Multnomah County Case No. 1311-15419

Plaintiff was hit from behind in a car crash. Defendant admitted he was talking on his cell phone.  Plaintiff alleges injuries including soft tissue strains/sprains to his neck, back, shoulder and knee.  Plaintiff sought $21,905 in unreimbursed medical expenses and $28,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant admitted liability but disputed causation and damages. Defense Verdict.

Andrews v. Burke, Multnomah County Case No. 1310-14946

Plaintiff listed his car for sale on Craig’s List.  Defendant was test driving the car with Plaintiff in the passenger seat. A vehicle was approaching in the oncoming lane.  A crash occurred when one of the drivers crossed the center line.  Plaintiff claims he does not know which driver crossed the center line. Plaintiff  settled with the driver in the oncoming car prior to trial. Before trial Plaintiff and Defendant stipulated to a damages amount and this trial was solely to compare negligence between Defendant and the oncoming car. Defense Verdict (Jury allocated 100% of fault to driver of oncoming vehicle).

Pedestrian Injury Trials

Fortuna v. Piazzese, Multnomah County Case No. 1311-16344

Plaintiff alleged that he was crossing Naito Parkway in a marked crosswalk when he was struck by a car driven by defendant. He alleged injuries including a tibia fracture, scalp laceration and traumatic brain injury. He sought $90,000 for medical expenses and $500,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant denied liability and claimed that plaintiff was wearing dark clothing when he suddenly left a place of safety and entered into the crosswalk directly in front of defendant. Verdict – $39,898.76  (Jury found plaintiff 50% at fault).

PIP Denial Trials

Maczko v. State Farm, Multnomah County Case No.1309-12899

This was a PIP benefits denial lawsuit. Plaintiff was in an automobile accident and began seeing a chiropractor.  Defendant sent plaintiff to see an IME doctor.  The first IME doctor agreed that the injuries were related to the crash and recommended two additional treatment sessions. When Plaintiff was treated beyond those sessions Defendant sent her to a different IME doctor who indicated that no further treatment was necessary and that the injuries were either unrelated to the crash totally or partially. Plaintiff brought this suit alleging that Defendant breached their contract with Plaintiff by not paying for reasonable and necessary medical expenses that resulted from the car crash. Verdict for plaintiff. The Court awarded legal fees totaling $33,052.50 pursuant to ORS 742.061.

Premises Liability Trials

Bracanovich v. Far West Fibers, Multnomah County Case No. 1310-14359

Plaintiff alleged that she went to defendant’s business location to drop off a garbage can for scrap metal. She was directed to walk towards a large bin. As she walked there she tripped on an uneven and cracked asphalt surface that was in violation of Portland City code 29.35.020. She fell and injured her ankle causing the need for surgery and physical therapy.  Plaintiff sought past medical bills of $26,000.00, lost earnings of $18,500.00 and non-economic damages of $400,000. Defendant denied that their property was in the condition alleged by Plaintiff. Defense Verdict.

Bowers v. Providence Health and Crystal Greens, Multnomah County Case No. 1205-06404

Plaintiff was an employee of Providence Health. She went to work on an icy and snowy day and as she walked across the icy parking lot she slipped and fell. She alleged that Providence and their contracted snow remover, Crystal Greens Landscape, were negligent in failing to remove ice and snow from the parking lot. Plaintiff alleged injuries to her lower back which required a multi-level fusion surgery. She sought damages including medical expenses of $93,000, wage losses of $15,000 and non-economic damages of $250,000. Defendants both denied liability. Defendant Providence Health asserted affirmative defenses for comparative fault. Defense Verdict.

Collins v. Sweet Taste Inc., Multnomah County Case No. 1309-12695

Premises liability case. On March 16, 2012 Mr. Collins was getting takeout food from defendant’s Chinese Food restaurant.  He waited in the downstairs bar while his food was being prepared.  When he left he began to ascend a staircase and stumbled, fell backwards and struck his head.  He died the next day from the injuries he sustained.  His estate alleges that the restaurant was negligent for failing to provide an adequate handrail, failing to warn Collins about the dangerous staircase and violation of multiple building codes.  The estate sought $500,000 in non-economic damages and $100,000 in economic damages for medical and funeral expenses. Defendant denied liability and claimed that the fall was a result of Mr. Collins’ own negligence in not keeping a proper lookout and control. Defense Verdict.

Product Liability Trials

Golik v. CBS Corp et al., Multnomah County Case No. 1308-11192

This was a wrongful death case filed by the widow – Ms. Golik – of a man who died from mesothelioma.  As personal representative and in her individual capacity, she alleged that her late husband was exposed to asbestos at the facilities of the various defendants during his career as an insulator.   She alleged that the companies exercised control over the work being performed and breached their duty to the independent contractors as invitees. Therefore defendants are not immune from liability to independent contractors as they normally would be. The various defendants argued that they did not retain control of work being performed at their facilities or breach their duties to invitees.  Thus, because Mr. Golik was an independent contractor, they are immune from liability.  They also argued that the exposure was not a substantial factor in his acquiring mesothelioma. Verdict - $3,957,672.70

UIM Trials

Derieux v. State Farm, Multnomah County Case No. 1310-14005

Plaintiff was injured when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a car on I-5.  His injuries included multiple right wrist fractures requiring surgical repair with the insertion of hardware.  He claimed that he will likely need future surgery to fuse the wrist due to an intercarpal collapse.  Permanent wrist impairment was claimed. The driver had a $25,000 insurance policy and limits were paid. Plaintiff had an underinsured motorist (UIM) policy with the defendant. Plaintiff sought $39,500 in medical expenses, $70,000 in future medical expenses and $500,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant disputed damages only and asked the jury to award $115,000. Total Verdict - $374,500.00.

Other Trials

E.S. v. State of Oregon, Multnomah County Case No. 14CV05451

The plaintiffs were two girls, ages five and three, who were taken from their biological parents due to neglect and abuse. Defendant DHS certified Kimberly Vollmer as a foster care provider. Plaintiffs were placed in Ms. Vollmer’s care by DHS. Ms. Vollmer was tasked with caring for four children – who at the time were all under the age of four. During 2012 multiple reports were made to DHS about Ms. Vollmer regarding the foster children including:

  • A report by a medical professional of Vollmer physically striking NE in the face with the back of her hand;
  • A report of severe diaper rash and blistering to one of the other children;
  • A report of smashed fingers, a bruised back and head to one of the other children; and
  • A report of unexplained blood in a diaper and vaginal bleeding to one of the other children;

The reports were either closed at screening by DHS or closed as “unfounded.”

In September of 2012, a DHS employee recommended a careful re-evaluation of Ms. Vollmer for her fitness to serve as a foster parent due to the number of small children and the number of reported injuries. No action was taken.

During the time NE & ES were placed with Ms. Vollmer they suffered both sexual and physical abuse. Ms. Vollmer was criminally convicted on charges relating to the abuse by way of a guilty plea.

Defendant, State of Oregon (DHS) denied that the abuse ever occurred and that they owed any duty to the child or exercised any control over the foster care she received.  They also argued that the children were in contact with multiple mandatory reporters during the time they were allegedly abused and none made reports so how was DHS to know any abuse occurred, if it did.

Verdict - $2,050,000 for each child.

Brown v. TRI MET, Multnomah County Case No. 1311-16170

Plaintiff alleged that she was attempting to board a Tri-Met bus in downtown Portland when defendant’s bus driver inadvertently closed the bus door trapping her arm.  She alleged injuries to her shoulder, neck, arm, elbow and wrist.  She sought $5,000.00 for medical expenses and $80,000.00 in non-economic damages. Defendant denied liability.  The defense produced videotape they claim showed plaintiff’s arm was not caught in the door at all but rather that she pulled her arm away before the door shut. The defense claimed that plaintiff’s injuries were the result of a motor vehicle crash six weeks earlier. Defense Verdict.

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