A Middletown Superior Court jury has awarded $287,351 to a woman who suffered back injuries after the Volvo T6 she was driving was struck by another motorist in Glastonbury in September 2014.
The six-person jury deliberated three hours on Jan. 11 before rendering its verdict in favor of Middletown resident Valerie Riesbeck. The jury, according to Brian Flood, Riesbeck’s attorney, heard from doctors offering conflicting testimony.
The plaintiff’s doctor, Alfred Hicks of Middletown’s Orthopedic Associates, testified during the two-day trial that Riesbeck’s severe back pain was due solely to the crash, in which a car driven by Alexandra Segar made an improper left turn and struck the front corner of her car. A lawsuit was filed in September 2016.
“Our doctor felt that she had, in fact, injured her disc as a result of the crash,” Flood said.
But defense expert Aris Yannopoulos, a doctor with Hartford Orthopedic Surgeons, said he did not believe the disc condition was related to the crash.
“He said, essentially, that she had a soft-tissue injury,” said Flood, a partner with The Flood Law Firm. “He said he felt she should have only received physical therapy for six to eight visits and nothing more.”
The 43-year-old Riesbeck, who opted to have acupuncture treatments as opposed to surgery or injections, addressed the jury during trial.
“I believe my client’s testimony could have swayed the jury,” Flood said. “It was the truth. It was also clear and evident that my client was credible and genuine on the stand, and that she was injured because of the crash.”
Segar, who did not testify at trial, was issued a written warning following the crash for improper left turn and failure to yield.
The jury awarded Riesbeck $43,991 in economic damages and $243,360 in noneconomic damages for a total award of $287,351.
Meehan, Roberts, Turret & Rosenbaum attorney Heather Genovese, field counsel for Liberty Mutual, has until Jan. 31 to decide whether to appeal to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Genovese did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Flood said Liberty Mutual offered $35,000 before trial, an amount he turned down. He said he had offered arbitration with a high award of $250,000, but the defense rejected that proposal.
Flood said his client, who is an auditor, is happy with the jury verdict, but said the pain is still evident even four and a half years after the crash.
“Periodically, maybe three times a year, she will get debilitating levels of pain that could last anywhere from three days to two weeks,” he said.
In court papers, the defense said it was leaving any proof of injuries to the plaintiffs to provide. It also denied any allegations or inferences of negligence.