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2017 - First Quarter

Table of Contents
April 1, 2017

Trials This Quarter

Medical Malpractice Trials

Murphy v. Roberts, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV14491

Plaintiff Murphy had a long history of health complaints including back pain. In 2012 she saw Defendant Dr. Roberts for a surgical consult. She decided to undergo a L5/S1 laminectomy and fusion.  Murphy alleged that Dr. Roberts performed the surgery at the wrong level (L4/L5) and then concealed his error from her. She subsequently sought care from two other surgeons and had two more back surgeries. She sought $100,000 for past medical expenses, $1 Million for past wage losses and loss of future earning capacity and $2 Million for non-economic damages.

Defendant Roberts denied all negligence.  He asserted that he performed the surgery at L5/S1 as indicated in post-surgical imaging and the notes from subsequent surgeons.  He claimed Murphy did not complete her post-surgery physical therapy and also that she was subsequently re-injured in a 2016 car accident.  After the car accident she made a demand to the other driver’s insurance company. In the demand she alleged that her injuries and pain were the result of the crash.  She provided chiropractic notes in which she stated that her low back pain had ceased after her last surgery in December 2015 only to recur after her car accident. Defense Verdict.

Rogers v. Surgical Associates et al., Multnomah County Case No. 15CV16519

Plaintiff Rogers went to the emergency department with severe pain in his abdomen.  He alleged that an ultrasound was administered and the radiologist concluded that the distal portion of an enlarged common bile duct was not well visualized and that there may be gallstones in the common bile duct that further imaging with a magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) might help reveal. Defendant, a surgeon for Surgical Associates, was consulted.  He performed a laparoscopic gall bladder removal.  He did not order a MRCP prior to the surgery or perform any testing during surgery to determine if any gallstones were present in Rogers’ common bile duct. In fact, there were gallstones present that were blocking bile secretion.  Sometime after the surgery Rogers’ bile duct ruptured, resulting in bile entering the abdominal cavity and initiating a life threatening infection.  Rogers sought $225,000 for past and future medical expenses and $750,000 for non-economic damages.

Defendant denied that his treatment fell below the standard of care. He argued that the original ultrasound was interpreted by the radiologist as an inflamed gall gladder with the possible passage of gall stones. Rogers was admitted to the hospital for observation during which his liver function testing continued to improve suggesting that he had passed a common bile duct stone. Prior to surgery his liver functioning tests were essentially normal. As such, further pre-operative or intra-operative testing was not medically called for. Defense Verdict.

MVA Trials

Waggoner and Nelson v. Ferrellgas and Purvis, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV13339

Plaintiffs Waggoner and Nelson were stopped at a traffic light in Salem, Oregon when they were rear-ended by a large gas truck driven by Defendant Purvis while working for Defendant Ferrellgas. Waggoner alleged injuries including post-concussion syndrome, bulging discs of the cervical and lumbar spine which required laser microsurgeries and will likely require future fusion surgery, headaches, TMJ dysfunction, vertigo, vision impairment and cognitive dysfunction.  He sought $209,335.40 in past medical expenses, $175,000 in future medical expenses and $346,111 for lost wages and lost future earning capacity. He also sought $500,000 for non-economic damages. Nelson alleged injuries including a fractured spine at L1 and injury to his L5-S1 facet joint which has required ongoing ablation procedures and will likely require surgery. He sought $23,457.01 in past medical expenses, future medical expenses of $240,000, lost earning capacity of $225,000 and $500,000 in non-economic damages.

Defendants admitted that Purvis was in the scope and course of his employment and that he negligently caused the crash.  They acknowledged that both plaintiffs were injured but disputed the extent of their injuries, the need for any future care, their wage/earnings losses and the amounts of their non-economic damages.  They argued that the injuries were soft tissue and should have resolved in a short period of time. Verdicts - $350,000 for Waggoner and $268,000 for Nelson.

Thomas v. Hill, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV01285

Defendant Hill rear-ended Plaintiff Thomas on North Larabee Street as it merges onto the Broadway Bridge.  Thomas claimed that the crash caused injury to his neck including an annular injury and bulging discs which required surgery.  He claimed damages including $129,654 in past medical expenses, $25,000 in past lost wages, $58,500 in future lost wages, $3,185 in property damage, $2,000 for the diminished value of his vehicle and $649,017 in non-economic damages. Defendant Hill denied liability.  He claimed that Thomas stopped suddenly.  He denied that he was speeding, inattentive or following too closely.  He also contested the cause of Thomas’ injuries and whether surgery was warranted. Verdict – $62,489.24.

Reiner v. Huisel, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV32662

Plaintiff Reiner was driving on SE 39 Avenue when Defendant Huisel ran a stop sign, causing them to crash. Reiner alleged accident-related injuries including a concussion with permanent symptoms, visual deficiencies, and soft tissue injuries to her neck, back arms, legs and hands.  She further alleged damages for humiliation after  being bullied by Huisel at the scene. She sought $450,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant admitted liability and that Reiner suffered some soft-tissue injuries but disputed the remaining injuries and the amount of damages. Verdict– $35,000.00.

Sharif v. Phillips, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV05197

Plaintiff Sharif alleged that he was rear-ended by a car that was projected into him after being hit from behind by Defendant Phillips. He claimed soft-tissue neck and back injuries as well as post-traumatic headaches. He sought $10,771.45 for past medical expenses and $39,228.55 for non-economic damages. Defendant admitted liability at trial but disputed causation and damages. Verdict – $20,448.10.

Cooper v. Christopher, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV03324

Plaintiff Cooper alleged that she was sitting in her car in a parking spot when Defendant Christopher backed up and hit her.  She alleged the impact caused soft tissue injuries to her neck and back which required her to see both a physical therapist and a chiropractor for about four months.  She sought $1,615 in unpaid medical expenses and $8,385 in non-economic damages.  She also sought attorney’s fees pursuant to ORS 20.080. Christopher denied liability and contested the cause and extent of Cooper’s injuries. Verdict – $5,765.00.

Estrada v. Byers, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV06100

Plaintiff Estrada was rear-ended by Defendant Byers on Highway 26. Estrada claimed that the crash caused him cervical, thoracic and lumbar strains.  He sought $10,000 for non-economic damages pursuant to ORS 20.080. Defendant Byers admitted that he negligently caused the crash.  He disputed the crash being the cause of any injury and the degree of the injury. Verdict – $5,000.00.

Lawton v. Bartholomew, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV28481

Plaintiff Lawton was driving across the Marquam Bridge when she stopped for traffic and was hit from behind by Defendant Bartholomew.  Lawton claimed Bartholomew was negligent for speeding, following too closely and failing to keep a proper lookout. She claimed accident-related injuries including sprains to the soft tissue surrounding her spine, rib subluxations and headaches. She sought $18,371.00 for past medical expenses and $250,000.00 in non-economic damages. Defendant Bartholomew claimed that he was travelling behind Lawton but in the adjacent lane.  She claimed that Lawton suddenly pulled directly in front of her and slammed on the brakes. She also contested the nature and extent of Lawton’s damages. Defense Verdict.

Kosatka v. Gott and Hansen, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV34631

Plaintiff Kosatka claimed he was waiting in the center turn lane of 82 Avenue for traffic to clear before attempting to merge into the northbound lanes. Defendant Gott was driving a vehicle owned by Defendant Hansen. Kosatka claimed Gott pulled into the center turn lane behind Kosatka. When the lane cleared Kosatka claims he moved into the interior northbound lane with the plan to then move immediately into the exterior northbound lane. He claimed that he made it to the exterior lane and Gott made it to the interior lane.  Gott then tried to speed up and make a quick right turn crossing Kosatka’s lane. He was not able to make it and caused a crash. Kosatka claimed crash-related injuries including injury to his lower back which required surgery. Kosatka claimed no prior back problems in his sworn deposition testimony. He sought $40,000 for past medical expenses, $12,000 for lost wages and $400,000 for non-economic damages.Defendant Gott alleged that it was he who was in front of Kosatka when he merged all the way to the exterior lane and Kosatka who tried to turn across the exterior lane from the interior lane, causing the crash.  He also contested damages and causation pointing out that Kosatka had longstanding back problems, including a prior surgery, for the same injuries he alleged were caused in the crash. Defense Verdict.

Harris v. Spangler, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV03338

Plaintiff Harris was driving north on Bel Air Drive. Defendant Spangler was traveling east on Highway 212. Harris pulled out from a stop sign and was struck by Spangler in a T-bone style crash. Harris claimed that Spangler was driving without headlights before sunrise, speeding and failing to keep a lookout. She claimed crash-related injuries including cervical disk herniations that required multiple-level fusion surgery. She sought $243,831.26 for past and future medical expenses, $24,136.56 for past and future wage losses and impaired earning capacity and $500,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant Spangler denied that she was negligent. She claimed that Harris was negligent for failing to yield and for pulling out directly in front of her. Defense Verdict.

PIP Denial Trials

Cooper v. State Farm, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV01194

Plaintiff Cooper was injured in a car accident in February 2015. She had personal injury protection (PIP) on her car insurance with Defendant State Farm.  State Farm paid approximately four months of medical bills before denying further medical treatment, alleging it was not medically necessary. Cooper brought this action seeking $7,571 for unpaid medical expenses which she argued were reasonable, necessary and related to the car accident. She sought attorney fees pursuant to ORS 742.061. Verdict – $1,362.00.

Premises Liability Trials

Appleyard v. Port of Portland, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV05139

Plaintiff Appleyard was picking up his luggage from carousel #8 at the Portland International Airport when he tripped over one of his bags and fell, striking his foot on the underside “toe space” of the baggage carousel. He claimed that the baggage carousel housing had a sharp edge that caused a significant laceration that required surgical repair and multiple days in the hospital. He claimed Defendant Port of Portland was negligent for failing to inspect the carousel, failing to warn of the danger and failing to make the premises reasonably safe for guests. He sought $25,810.31 for past medical expenses and $120,000 for non-economic damages. The Port of Portland denied liability. They argued that Appleyard’s wound was an avulsion type wound caused by the significant impact that occurred when he fell and his luggage acted as a fulcrum thereby forcing his foot with a “crowbar effect” against the carousel housing. They claimed he suffered no laceration wound that would have been caused by sharp metal as he claimed. Defense Verdict

UM/UIM Trials

Schneider v. Farmers Insurance Company, Multnomah County Case No. 15CV32970

Plaintiff Schneider was walking along the side of a rural highway in central Oregon when she was hit by an underinsured motorist.  She settled for that driver’s $25,000 insurance policy limits and then brought this underinsured Motorist (UIM) case against her own insurance company. She alleged that the driver was going too fast, failed to yield the right of way, failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to swerve to avoid a collision. She claimed crash-related injuries to her head, neck, shoulder and spine. She sought $100,000 for past and future medical expenses, $26,203 for wage losses and $900,000 for non-economic damages.

Farmers Insurance denied that the underinsured driver was negligent. They claimed that Schneider’s own negligence caused the collision. They alleged she was negligent for walking on the paved portion of the road instead of the gravel shoulder and for not moving onto the shoulder when she saw the driver approaching. Defense Verdict

Other Trials

Baker v. Dozier, Multnomah County Case No. 16CV05410

Plaintiff Baker and Defendant Dozier worked together in a shop that manufactures brake systems. Baker alleged that while they were at work, Dozier pointed a pistol and fired it at him.  Unbeknownst to Baker, the pistol was loaded with a blank round. Baker claimed that Dozier had a history with firearms and, as a convicted felon, should not have been in possession of one.  Baker alleged that the incident caused him emotional distress for which he sought $1,000 in economic damages and $100,000 in non-economic damages. Defendant Dozier claimed that the pistol was a toy cap gun and not a real firearm. Verdict - $31,000.00.

Estate of Tyler Baker v. Croslin, Multnomah County Case No. 1106-07278

In 2010 Mr. Baker was at a party hosted by Mr. Croslin and attended by Mr. Smith.  All three men were armed. All three men were drinking. During the night they began practicing hold–up and quick-draw scenarios.  During one of these scenarios, Smith fired a round that hit and killed Baker.  Baker’s estate brought this lawsuit.  Initially the suit was against both Smith and Croslin.  During the pendency of the litigation Smith pled guilty in criminal court to criminally negligent homicide. Baker’s estate settled with Smith and proceeded only against Croslin.  The estate alleged that Croslin was liable for Baker’s death pursuant to ORS 471.565, Oregon’s social host liability law.  Specifically, they alleged that Croslin served Smith while he was visibly intoxicated, knowing that Smith was in possession of a loaded firearm. And, they argued that Croslin encouraged the gunplay and even participated in the loading of the firearms.  The estate sought $5,187.35 for funeral expenses, $29,777.45 for medical expenses, $2,080,000.00 for lost earnings minus consumption for the course of Baker’s life and $1.5 Million for non-economic damages. Croslin argued that he did not “provide” alcohol to a visibly-intoxicated Smith. Croslin argued that Smith only consumed a small quantity of hosted alcohol before beginning to drink his own beverages and those supplied by Baker. Defense Verdict.

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