MOTOR VEHICLE

Parked driver injured in collision caused by trucker gets $350,000

On June 20, a woman who claimed a cervical injury in a collision caused by a truck driver was awarded $350,279. Melissa Turner was in a disabled car on the side of a highway when a Sandstorm Trucking 18-wheeler jackknifed and struck another parked car. That parked car then struck Turner's car. The defense stipulated to the truck driver's negligence. Turner claimed a herniated cervical disk and post-traumatic stress disorder. She underwent an anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion a year after the crash. The plaintiff's treatment for PTSD began a month after the accident and was ongoing at the time of trial.

Turner v. Sandstorm Trucking LLC, No. 1-12-205

Court: 382nd District Court, Rockwall County

Plaintiff Attorney: Clinton D. Gilbert, Best, Watson & Gilbert, Garland

Defense Attorney: Lamar Jones, Adkerson, Hauder & Bezney, Dallas

Family gets $286,715 for injuries

On June 25, a jury awarded $286,715 to a family who claimed multiple injuries in a rear-ender. Vera Marsh, her daughter Lena Marsh and grandson Willie Boulden were struck by Manuel Herrera in a pickup truck. Vera Marsh claimed disk protrusions and herniations at C3-4 and C4-5. She also claimed bilateral shoulder injuries, lumbar injuries and a compression fracture in her neck. Lena Marsh claimed injuries to her lower back, mid-back and right arm. Willie Boulden claimed lower back, mid-back and left shoulder injuries.

Marsh v. Herrera, No. DC-11-07061

Court: 95th District Court, Dallas County

Plaintiff Attorney: Lucas Lafitte, Ben Abbott PC, Garland

Defense Attorney: Jeremy W. McKey, McKey, Morrison & Sanchez, Dallas

Couple awarded $15,106 for injuries in rear-ender

On July 8, a jury awarded $15,106 to a couple who claimed neck, back and leg sprains and strains in a rear-ender. Donald and Joan Dennis were struck by Henry C. Jones Jr. Donald Dennis went to the emergency room four days later and complained of left leg and knee pain. A few days later, he went to Injury & Rehabilitation Center with complaints of pain and stiffness on both sides of the neck, bilateral wrist pain, left knee stiffness and pain, and pain and stiffness on both sides of the mid-back area and both sides of the lumbosacral area. Joan Dennis claimed neck, lower back, mid-back, left shoulder, left arm and bilateral leg sprains and strains.

Dennis v. Jones, No. 296-04934-2011

Court: 296th District Court, Collin County

Plaintiff Attorney: Tyler Carleton, Ben Abbott PC, Garland

Defense Attorney: Scott A Whitcomb, G. Patrick Collins & Associates, Dallas

Jury awards $6,117 for neck and back sprains

On June 25, a jury awarded $6,117 to a driver who claimed neck and back sprains and strains in a rear-ender. Felipe Belmarez II was driving in the rain when he was struck by Bobby Ray Snyder. The defendant blamed the wet road for the collision. Belmarez went to a minor emergency clinic on the day of the accident. He underwent 25 physical therapy sessions and recovered from his injuries. Belmarez sought past medical bills of $6,117, plus $10,000 for past pain and suffering. The defense argued that the accident was too minor to have caused any injuries. Photos of Belmarez's vehicle showed very little damage. The defense also noted that Belmarez was referred to the physical therapy provider by an attorney.

Belmarez v. Dickerson, No. 2010-62971

Court: 165th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: John Carl Cunningham, Bellaire

Defense Attorney: Marlo A. Heath, Soule, Baldwin & Fanaff, Houston

Jury sided with plaintiff in rear-ender

On May 20, a jury awarded $2,014 to a man who claimed neck, back and shoulder pain after a rear-ender. John Peyton was struck by Hailey Blair when he came to a stop at a red light. Peyton went to the emergency room on his own about six hours after the accident and was treated and released. He claimed neck, back and left (nondominant) shoulder sprains and strains; headaches; and pain to the left side of his body. He followed up with 22 chiropractic treatments. According to the defense, the hospital visit was the only reasonable and necessary treatment.

Peyton v. Blair, No. 2012-06074

Court: 127th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Shelly Singh, Richard J. Presutti Law Office, Houston

Defense Attorney: Sherra Gilbert, Soule, Baldwin & Fanaff, Houston

Jury sides with defendant in wet-road crash

On May 15, a jury sided with a driver who claimed the wet road was to blame for the accident. Gilberto Pedraza rear-ended Vincent Laday in the rainy conditions. Laday claimed that he was following too closely and the accident left him with a torn rotator cuff and neck and back strains. Pedraza denied negligence and argued that it was just an accident. He said he saw the plaintiff stop and he braked timely but slid into them due to the wet road. The defense argued that Laday's injuries were pre-existing and that there were records of prior neck, back and shoulder complaints, which Laday denied.

Laday v. Pedraza, No. 2011-49767

Court: 55th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Timothy M. McHale, Lassiter Law Firm, Houston

Defense Attorney: Javier S. Martinez, Soule, Baldwin & Fanaff, Houston

Jury awards $26,687 to pedestrian struck outside crosswalk

A teenager who was struck while crossing a street recovered $26,687 on June 4. Nora Arafat wasn't using a crosswalk when she was hit by Shandrof Burks. She sustained abrasions on her right foot. Burks claimed that he was unable to see Arafat due to dark conditions on the road. He said that she ran into the street without warning. The jury found Nora 30 percent liable and Burks 70 percent liable, which reduced the $38,124 award.

Arafat v. Burks, No. 11-12-13161-cv

Court: 284th District Court, Montgomery County

Plaintiff Attorneys: Graham E. Sutliff and Hank Stout, Sutliff & Stout, Houston

Defense Attorney: Nancy Laha Clark, Law Offices of Neil S. Levin, Houston

Driver recovers for neck, back and shoulder injuries

A driver who claimed neck, back and shoulder injuries recovered $1,200 on July 10. Robert Smith Jr. was driving a pickup truck in Tyler when Dixie Clakley, driving a full-size pickup truck, pulled out from a driveway and attempted a left turn, and they collided. Clakley contended that she would have had room to make her turn, but Smith caused the accident by veering into her lane. The jury found Smith 20 percent negligent and Clakley 80 percent negligent, which reduced the $1,500 award.

Smith v. Clakley, No. 61,389-B

Court: Smith County Court-at-Law No. 3

Plaintiff Attorney: Christopher Sbrusch, Loncar & Associates, Tyler

Defense Attorney: Shane McGuire, Starr Schoenbrun Comte McGuire, Tyler

Driver recovers for alleged cervical and lumbar strains

A driver who claimed cervical and lumbar strains in a collision recovered $5,030 on July 16. Joe Rubio claimed that Po Hsueh attempted to make a left turn across his path, causing him to collide with the side of Hsueh's car. Hsueh maintained that he was attempting to make a legal left turn from the inner lane when Rubio attempted to pass him on the left and collided with the side of his car. The jury found Hsueh 90 percent liable and Rubio 10 percent liable, which reduced the $5,589 award.

Rubio v. Hsueh, No. CC-11-08394-C

Court: Dallas County Court-at-Law No. 3

Plaintiff Attorney: Tyler Carlton, Ben Abbott PC, Garland

Defense Attorney: John W. Stilwell, Law Office of John Stilwell, Addison

Unidentified trucker mostly to blame for crash, jury finds

An unidentified tractor-trailer driver was 90 percent to blame on July 24 for a collision involving two other tractor-trailers. Charles Cross' rig was struck by Thomas Stephens' truck. Stephens claimed a third, unidentified tractor-trailer made an unsafe lane change and collided with the side of his tractor-trailer, forcing him into Cross' lane. Defense counsel claimed the third tractor-trailer then left the scene. Cross was awarded $1,171.75 which was reduced to $171.17.

Cross v. Stephens, No. 2012-28771

Court: 157th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Jeffrey C. Cashe, Cashe, Coudrain & Sandage, Hammond, La.

Defense Attorney: Michael W. Magee, Hays, McConn, Rice & Pickering, Houston

Plaintiff awarded $4,656 for claimed disk bulges

On June 25, a jury awarded $4,656 to a man who claimed lumbar disk bulges when he was struck while parked in his pickup truck. Eric Infante was in his truck at a road construction site when Alfredo Coria backed up his pickup and struck his rear. Infante claimed he was struck three times. Coria said it was only once. Infante claimed disk bulges at L2-3, L4-5 and L5-S1. Infante began chiropractic treatment the day after the collision and continued for six months. He received three epidural steroid injections.

Infante v. Webber LLC, No. 2012-17475

Court: 157th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorneys: Christine Vinh Weems and William W. Hoke, Kwok Daniel, Houston

Defense Attorneys: Michael W. Magee, Hays, McConn, Rice & Pickering, Houston

Plaintiff recovers for neck injury claims

A driver who claimed a cervical herniation and protrusions recovered $22,200 on June 14. Alex Sepulvado claimed that Amy South attempted a left turn into a parking lot and he collided with the left rear corner of her car. South maintained that she was established in the left lane when she made her turn. She also argued that Sepulvado was going too fast, especially with a loaded trailer. Sepulvado acknowledged that he was going 45 mph in a 40-mph zone and that he did not see South until the impact. The jury found South 60 percent negligent and Sepulvado 40 percent negligent, which reduced his $37,000 award.

Sepulvado v. South, No. 2011-37299

Court: 125th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Paul H. Cannon, Simmons & Fletcher, Houston

Defense Attorney: Jay A. McKendree, Soule, Baldwin & Fanaff, Houston

Prior settlement cancels out award

On June 4, a jury awarded a driver who claimed back and neck injuries, but he won't collect it because of a prior settlement with the defendant's liability carrier. Steven Woo was broadsided by Brian Lowry who was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Woo claimed neck and back sprains and strains, a compression fracture in the thoracic spine, and a herniated thoracic disk. The defense argued that the thoracic injury was unrelated to the accident and that it was caused by a subsequent injury at home. Also, the records said that the compression fracture was of indeterminable age. The defense noted that Woo was on narcotic pain medication for years before the accident. The $16,140 award was eliminated by the $25,000 settlement.

Woo v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 2011-12606

Court: 152nd District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Kerry M. Guidry, The Guidry Law Firm, Houston

Defense Attorneys: Barbara L. Hachenburg and Ben C. Miller, Germer PLLC, Houston

Neither driver to blame for crash, jury finds

On June 11, a jury declined to award damages in an intersection crash where the parties disputed who had the green light. The suit's plaintiff, Liliana De La Garza, claimed that her light was green and that it turned yellow as she was entering the intersection. She sued Mohammad N. Khan, who claimed that his light was green the whole time. The jury found no negligence by either driver and did not reach the damages question.

De La Garza v. Khan, No. 2011-44856

Court: 80th District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorneys: Charles L. "Chuck" Cole, Cole, Cole & Easley, Victoria; Paul A. Higdon, Higdon Lawyers, Bellaire

Defense Attorneys: Randy G. Donato and Ian C. Hernandez, Donato, Minx & Brown, Houston

Motorcyclist struck by wrong-way driver gets $5.2 million

A motorcyclist who lost his leg in a crash with a car that was going the wrong way was awarded $5.2 million on July 26. Jerry Wall was struck by Vernelle P. Ingram who entered an interstate by using an exit ramp. He was thrown about 50 feet. Wall had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation. He also fractured both femurs, his pelvis and his arm. The plaintiff contracted an infection while in the hospital and nearly died. After spending about three months in the hospital, he was bedridden for another two months and had to wear a colostomy bag for nine months.

Wall v. Ingram, No. CV11-1635

Court: 43rd District Court, Parker County

Plaintiff Attorneys: D. Bradley Kizzia, Brown, Fox, Kizzia & Johnson, Dallas; Bill Ucherek II, Juneau, Boll, Stacy & Ucherek, Addison

Defense Attorney: R. Bruce Moon, Brackett & Ellis, Fort Worth

Both drivers to blame for collision

On June 4, a jury found two drivers equally to blame for a rear-ender, leaving only a $207 recovery for the plaintiff. Maribel Ruiz was allegedly stopped at a red light when she was struck by Ann Kho. Kho contended that Ruiz had started to turn right on red, the light then turned green, and Kho was looking for traffic to the left and took her foot off the accelerator. When she looked forward again, Ruiz had stopped for no apparent reason, and Kho didn't have time to stop, she claimed. The plaintiff claimed back and neck pain and a chest contusion.

Ruiz v. Kho, No. 2011-15205

Court: 281st District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff Attorney: Mac W. Hancock, Houston

Defense Attorney: Alan Janiga, Kilpatrick, White & Deas, Houston

Premises Liability

Jury awards family $503,664 for teen's drowning in murky pool

The family of a teenager who drowned in a murky pool at an apartment complex recovered $503,664 on Feb. 20. McHenry Devon Jones, 16, was nightswimming at Plantation Homes Apartments in Dallas where his girlfriend had just moved that day. He went into the deep end, went underwater and drowned. His family sued MBW Realty, alleging that the pool should have been closed because of the cloudy water. The drain was not visible, which was the standard for closure under the city's swimming pool ordinance. According to the plaintiffs, the maintenance worker's girlfriend was present and would not go into the pool to look for McHenry because the water was so dark. The jury found McHenry 45 percent negligent and MBW Realty 55 percent negligent.

Caldwell v. Plantation House Apartments, No. DC-10-14503

Court: 160th District Court, Dallas County

Plaintiff Attorney: Jesse E. Guerra Jr., The J. Guerra Law Firm, San Antonio

Defense Attorney: Paul A. Bezney, Adkerson Hauder & Bezney, Dallas