Early surveillance and making the decision to share findings with the attorney netted a reasonable settlement on a claim with unfavorable liability. A male customer slipped and fell in a parking lot landing on his girlfriend. The debris he slipped on consisted of flour the store placed over an oil spill on a rainy day, making for a slippery combination. Liability was unfavorable. Both the male and female retained counsel. The male was treating for pain, sprains, and strains to his lower back and knees. The female was treated for pain, sprains, and strains to her back, shoulder, and collar bone. They did not have insurance and accrued medical bills. Surveillance was done 20 days after the loss occurred and captured favorable activity by both claimants — significantly, the male stomping on big tree branches as part of a yard clean-up after a storm. Some of the surveillance findings were shared with claimant’s attorney and the matter was settled for nuisance value ($5K and under).
Recent Noteworthy Claims
Plaintiff slipped and fell on a liquid substance while shopping at a supermarket (defendant), sustaining a right knee meniscus tear and allegedly cervical herniations. Plaintiff’s demand was $500,000. The Defendant established, prima facie, that it did not create the condition or have actual or constructive notice thereof. The defendant showed that proper procedures were implemented to timely detect potential hazards and that none existed within an unreasonable amount of time. Plaintiff admitted walking past the area just prior without incident and that she neither noticed nor felt the substance on the floor at that time. Further, the Court found that although there was an employee in the aisle nearby, his presence did not constitute that the supermarket had actual or constructive notice. The issue to be determined was whether the supermarket was aware of the substance such that it had a duty to remedy it. The Defendant conclusively demonstrated that it did not.
Settlement Less Than Projected Value
Plaintiff, a chef, stepped up on a ledge and into a freezer to retrieve product and tripped backwards as he was backing out of the freezer. He sustained a Bi-Mal Ankle fracture with Open Reduction Internal Fixation surgery (pins and rods placed in ankle) and also suffered from residual nerve damage and an infection to the injured foot/ankle. Additionally, he claimed mental distress and soft tissue-like injuries to the neck, lumbar, and knee. Plaintiff’s overall treatment was for two years, but future surgeries and the prospect of arthritis was argued. Past economic damages were over $480K. His WC lien was $285K. He did not work for almost five years at the time of settlement. Verdict value range was projected at or around $3 million. Settlement value was projected between $1,000,000 – $2,000,000. Plaintiff’s initial demand early on in the case was $650,000, which was then pulled off the table as plaintiff’s condition escalated. It was projected that plaintiff would make a demand of $1,000,000 – $2,000,000. A demand was not provided until the end of discovery at mediation. The demand was $750,000. Case settled for $335,000.
ES&P Medical Experts at Work
ES&P reached an exceptionally successful settlement involving a female plaintiff who claimed traumatic brain injury stemming from an accident that occurred inside our client’s warehouse. Surveillance footage captured three boxes falling from an overhead shelf striking the plaintiff directly on her head, shoulders and back. Our client’s employee was stacking merchandise from an adjacent aisle and while doing so inadvertently pushed the boxes into the aisle where plaintiff was standing. We had no choice but to concede liability against our client. The Plaintiff alleged she sustained severe injuries to her head, neck, and shoulders, including a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). The TBI was confirmed through diagnostic testing. We immediately retained our own experts to review the records and conduct our own independent medical examination. Our experts were able to determine that the plaintiff had a pre-existing lesion in her brain and had been experiencing symptoms for years. We aggressively argued that the injuries plaintiff was asserting were in fact pre-existing and not casually related to the accident. Through aggressive negotiations and the expertise of our own renowned medical experts, we settled the case for $75,000. The plaintiff had put forward a $1,000.000 settlement demand.
Successful Risk Transfer
Our client was served with a lawsuit alleging that a product purchased from our client’s warehouse exploded and caused severe third degree burns and permanent disfigurement throughout the plaintiff’s body. The plaintiff alleged that he was caused to be hospitalized and underwent painful procedures including but not limited to skin debridement and skin grafts. He was deemed permanently disabled and incurred close to $75,000 in medical bills. We were immediately able to identify the manufacturer and supplier of the alleged defective product. Prior to retaining counsel, we immediately tendered to the supplier and manufacturer citing the pertinent provisions of the contract, including the insurance clause, naming our client as an additional insured. The supplier picked up our tender, interposed an answer on our client’s behalf, and agreed to defend and fully indemnify our client. In this instance we were successfully able to transfer our client’s risk without having to engage our own defense counsel and incur any legal defense costs.
Declaratory Judgement Action
A temporary employee was involved in an accident in our client’s warehouse while operating a forklift. Our investigation revealed that the temporary employee backed his forklift into a forklift operated by our client’s employee. The temporary employee alleged multiple injuries including back injuries requiring surgery and was deemed partially disabled. Having reviewed our investigation and the contract between both respective parties we concluded that a tender was appropriate. Initially the insurance carrier insuring the company that employed the temporary worker denied our tender request, even though we were able to show surveillance footage of the temporary worker backing up into our client and causing his own accident. The contract clearly mandated that the insurance company defend and indemnify our client. Nevertheless, despite their contractual obligation, the insurance carrier denied our tender. We, in response to their denial, immediately initiated a declaratory judgement action directly against the insurance carrier. Within several weeks of filing a lawsuit against the insurance carrier, our client’s defense and indemnification was fully accepted and all of our legal defense costs were fully reimbursed by the carrier.
ES&P Investigative Efforts Benefit Client
Plaintiff was struck from behind by a hi-lo in the right ankle causing her to fall forward on both her knees and left hand. A right knee MRI revealed a tear involving the posterior horn of the medial meniscus. Plaintiff was advised to have knee surgery. Plaintiff’s initial demand was $225,000. Defense counsel advised that verdict searches for a tear involving the posterior horn of the medial meniscus revealed a range from $57,000 to $600,000. Defense counsel estimated a settlement range of $75,000 to $100,000 for the potential right knee surgery. Due to our investigative efforts, including the ISO report (revealing prior accidents) and surveillance (showing her moving quickly and swiftly), the case settled for $27,500.
Surveillance Challenges Claims
Cases of meat fell on plaintiff’s head, back, and neck from a higher shelf. A store employee was placing a pallet from the other side of the shelf with a hi-lo, causing product to fall. Claimant was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The MRI of claimant’s thoracic spine confirmed disc herniations with impingement. Claimant’s initial demand was $100,000. Surveillance revealed claimant lifting cases of beverages and loading heavy items into and out of his truck. The case settled for $15,000.
Court Renders in Favor of ES&P’s Municipal Client
Two claimants were walking on a hiking trail in a County Park which is owned and maintained by our client, a governmental municipality. A large tree limb fell, striking both plaintiffs, causing significant injures to both claimants. The claimants allegedly sustained fractures, brain injuries, and other serious harm. We immediately identified numerous defenses to the claim, including that our client did not have advance notice of any dangerous condition involving the tree. Based on jury verdict results we conducted, the brain injury case had significant value, which could have exceeded $750,000. As such, we set out to aggressively litigate the case and ultimately filed a summary judgement motion on liability. The court agreed with our position on lack of notice and rendered in favor of the governmental municipality.
Investigative Efforts Reveal Prior Injuries
A store employee (who was not authorized to use power equipment) drove a forklift backwards and ran into a flatbed cart located next to plaintiff. The flatbed then struck plaintiff, injuring his back. Plaintiff claimed several lumbar disc bulges. Plaintiff’s initial demand was $95,000. Due to our investigative efforts, which revealed prior injuries to his back, case settled for $15,000.
$100,000+ Case Settles for $15,500
A 76-year-old female who fell at her neighborhood supermarket incurred an injury to her lower extremities. She sustained nondisplaced fractures bilaterally of the distal fibula or lateral malleolus and had a fracture subluxation of the first tars metatarsal joint with associated nondisplaced fractures of the second, third and fourth base of the metacarpal extra-articular. Open reduction and internal fixation fracture dislocation of the left first tars metatarsal joint with screws. A short leg splint was applied. She was admitted to the hospital and subsequently transferred to a subacute rehab facility. She was then discharged from the rehab facility where she received extensive P/T. She continued with P/T as she was having considerable pain in her hip and left side. She had a difficult time walking and was bedridden until she started using a wheelchair. She could not find any shoes or slippers that would fit her as her feet were very swollen. There is no medical lien on the case. Case has significant value to it. Easily in excess of $100,000. Case settled for $15,500.
A 71-year-old female parked her vehicle in the parking lot and walked to the front of the car to go into a store when she stepped in something and started to fall. She tried to hold her fall but couldn’t and fell on her left hand, left side of her face and her left knee. Her face was badly bruised, swollen and she broke her eyeglasses. ER notes that she had post-concussion syndrome, facial hematomas, x rays of the hand, CT scan of the head/brain, and CT scan of the face and upper spine. She also received vaccine for tetanus, with debris in her left eye. They found a piece of glass in her eye and told her that they would not remove it and it should come out on its own. Removal of the debris took several attempts. Several months after the fall she advised ES&P that she continues to be lightheaded and went to the doctor to remove more debris from her eye. He doctor advised her that the eye socket still needs time to heal and the bruising will go away eventually. Her face, including her left eye, was badly bruised. Case settled for $1500.00.