Outhier v. O’Connor

$185,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict: Jan. 10.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Chester No. 2016-08314-TT.

Judge: Jacqueline C. Cody.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle.

Injuries: Ankle, foot injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: John J. Del Casale, Law Offices of M. Mark Mendel, Media.

Plaintiffs Experts: Peter H. Connolly, vascular surgery; New York, New York; Timothy T. Chen, podiatry, Exton.

Defense Counsel:  James D. Palmer, Palmer & Barr, Willow Grove.

Defense Expert: Karl Rosenfeld, orthopedic surgery, Paoli. Comment:

On June 26, 2016, plaintiff Keith Outhier, 49, a web developer, was driving a sport utility vehicle on Romansville Road at its intersection with Chestnut Lane, in Coatesville, when the passenger’s side front of his SUV struck the front driver’s side of another SUV. The other SUV, which was being driven by Alison O’Connor had been traveling on Chestnut Lane. Traffic entering the intersection from Chestnut Lane was controlled by a stop sign. O’Connor allegedly entered the intersection without first assuring that the intersection was safe to enter. Outhier claimed foot injuries.

Outhier sued O’Connor and the owner of O’Connor’s vehicle, O’Connor Builders Inc. Outhier alleged that she was negligent in the operation of a vehicle. Outhier futher alleged that the owner was vicarously liable for her actiions.

The claim against O’Connor Builders Inc. was dismissed, prior to trial.

O’Connor stipulated to liability, and the case was tried on the issues of causation and damages.

Outhier was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was admitted. He was diagnosed with a tear of his left Achilles tendon. He underwent surgical repair of the tendon tear, which included the loss of about two inches of his Achilles tendon. Two days later, he was discharged in a cast.

For the next month, Outhier’s left foot remained in a cast and he remained non-weight-bearing. His foot was then fitted with a walking boot.

In July, he began a course of physical therapy, which he treated through December.

In early 2017, Outhier’s condition continued to improve; however, in March, he began a job that required more walking. The increased walking allegedly brought about increased pain in his left foot and swelling to his left ankle. He returned to his surgeon, who recommended additional therapy, which Outhier received from late April through early June 2017.

Outhier alleged that, on June 1, 2017, while walking to work, he felt a sharp pain on the top of his left foot. An MRI revealed a stress fracture at the second metatarsal. His left foot was placed back into a walking boot and he was limited in his walking until August.

After being allowed to resume his activities in mid-August, Outhier again experienced pain in his left foot, and on Sept. 1, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the third metatarsal. Outhier’s left foot was again placed into a boot, and he remained non-weight bearing until November. The third metatarsal healed, but instead of healing properly, the second metatarsal formed a non-union.

Through 2018, Outhier continued to consult with his podiatrist, and in September he was given a bone stimulator, which he continued to use at the time of trial. Outhier sought to recover $10,000 in medical costs. He missed no time from his work.

Outhier’s podiatrist testified that, due to the damage to the Achilles tendon, increased pressure was placed on Outhier’s left forefoot, resulting in the two metatarsal fractures. The physician testified that it was premature to predict the outcome of the non-union, as use of the bone stimulator started in September 2018, and it would take up to six months of use to determine if the bone would heal. The podiatrist noted that Outhier was showing some improvement due to the bone stimulator, as bone growth had occurred.

Outhier’s expert in vascular surgery testified that, in addition to the Achilles tendon tear, Outhier suffered tearing and damage to his left ankle’s lymphatic system, the network of vessels through which lymph drains from the tissues into the blood. This resulted in mild, chronic swelling to the ankle.

Outhier testified that, in addition to continuing to treat with the bone stimulator, he consults with his podiatrist, treats with ice packs on his left foot and uses a walking stick. He and his wife also discussed how the injury dramatically altered their active lifestyle, which included jogging, playing pickleball, camping and hiking. Outhier allegedly can only perform the activities in a minimal capacity. He sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Jia Outher, the plaintiff’s wife, originally sued for loss of consortium, but withdrew her claim prior to trial.

The defense conceded that Outhier suffered the Achilles tendon tear and damage to the lymphatics from the accident, but disputed that the metatarsal fractures resulted from the collision. The defense’s expert in orthopedic surgery testified that Outhier’s foot fractures were caused by a 2012 knee injury that he suffered that also damaged his peroneal nerve, leaving Outhier with a foot drop.

The jury found that O’Connor’s negligence caused Outhier to suffer metatarsal fractures. He was determined to receive $185,000.

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to calls for comment.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication