A 32-year-old Stratford woman whose Nissan Rogue was struck head-on by a motorist who was texting her husband about what they were going to have for dinner has settled her case for $235,000.
According to a June 2017 lawsuit filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, Kelsey Lisk and her passenger, then boyfriend Andrew Keating, were traveling southbound in Coventry in July 2015 when a vehicle driven by Dasantila Rook crossed the yellow line and hit the Lisk vehicle head-on. While Lisk and Keating sustained only bumps and bruises, Lisk’s attorney said his client suffered emotionally and psychologically. In fact, attorney Jerry McEnery said Lisk suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had to undergo treatment for anxiety and panic attacks, which developed periodically when she was driving.
“She will be driving on the highway and something will occur in that someone will either cut her off or traffic could stop suddenly or someone comes up behind her — any trigger may occur in her having a panic attack now on the highway,” said McEnery, owner and partner of Milford-based McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan. “She is learning to cope. She has had therapy to address the issue.”
‘They Had the Goods on Her’
McEnery, who settled the case Friday morning with Rook’s insurance carrier, Kemper Home Services Cos., said Rook’s texting while driving was not in dispute.
“Rook was leaving work and had taken food from the restaurant where she worked at. She was bringing dinner home,” McEnery said Monday. “She was texting and driving and the impact occurred because she is not looking up. The impact throws her phone out of her hand and the phone lands on the floor of the car.”
According to McEnery, the investigating officer retrieved the phone from the car and asked Rook to open the phone with the password.
“She voluntarily opened the phone,” McEnery said. “The screen came up, with the text message about dinner which had a time on it consistent with the accident. They had the goods on her.”
Rook was given tickets for failure to drive in the right lane; texting while operating a motor vehicle and distracted driving.
McEnery said he sought to recover the maximum under Rook’s $250,000 insurance policy.
“They tried to nickel and dime me. Their first offer was less than $50,000 and then they offered $75,000. And then they understood that I was holding out for the policy,” McEnery said.
McEnery said he agreed to settle for $235,000, or $15,000 less than the policy, “because I still had three months before trial. Time is money, and the $15,000 at that point was not just worth it. It was in everybody’s best interest to settle.”
John Majewski, of The Nicholas Law Firm in Waterbury, represented Kemper and Rook. He did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
In court papers, the defense argued there was insufficient information to prove Rook had caused the accident.
If the case had gone to trial, McEnery said he’s confident the plaintiff would have made a good witness.
“I had a good client and a good case,” he said. “My client was very credible and she had a real injury, which was PTSD.”