Undisclosed v. UndisclosedTuesday March 07, 2017
PHOENIX, AZ (March 7, 2017) – Michael Halvorson, a Partner
with Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, saved Defendant from a potentially substantial
verdict in a personal injury case.
Defendant was operating a tractor-trailer weighing
approximately 75,000 pounds when it impacted the rear of Plaintiff’s 1972
pick-up truck, which was stopped at a red light. Because Plaintiff's vehicle lacked a headrest,
the back of Plaintiff's head smashed into the glass of his back window.
Plaintiff, age 37 and a father of three, claimed this caused him to suffer a
concussion, as well as severe head, neck, shoulder and arm injuries for which
he treated with conservative care and epidural injections over the next two
years. Plaintiff was ultimately
diagnosed with a cervical disk herniation, and he subsequently underwent
surgery that resulted in a fusion of his cervical spine at a total cost in
excess of $118,000. Plaintiff also claimed to have suffered in excess of
$40,000 in lost wages, as well as damages for future medical care and economic
losses. Specifically, although the
surgery was deemed a success, Plaintiff continued to have ongoing pain and
limitations, and his primary doctor opined that he could expect complications
in the future as a result. Consequently,
prior to trial, Plaintiff demanded Defendant’s insurance policy limit of $1
The case was filed in Sacramento, California, and Mr.
Halvorson was subsequently asked to enter an appearance pro hac vice for
purposes of trying the case. Shortly
before trial, Defendant admitted fault for the accident and filed a CCP §998
Offer for $250,000. Mr. Halvorson also
filed several motions to limit Plaintiff’s damages, which successfully resulted
in the withdrawal of Plaintiff’s past lost wage and future economic loss
claims. During the 8 day trial,
Defendant did not dispute that Plaintiff suffered from a herniated disk, or
that the surgery was unnecessary or unreasonable. In fact, Mr. Halvorson withdrew Defendant’s
medical expert in this regard. Instead,
through cross-examinations of Plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon and biomechanical
engineering/accident reconstruction expert, Defendant argued that the
circumstantial evidence more strongly suggested the herniation preexisted the
accident, and the accident simply exacerbated Plaintiff’s condition for a
period of approximately four months.
Defendant argued that Plaintiff was entitled to his medical expenses for
the conservative care he received during these four months, along with
compensation for his pain and suffering, which Mr. Halvorson suggested amounted
to a total damage award of $40,777.19.
Plaintiff, however, asked the jury to award a total of
$1,432,318, which included his medical expenses, scar disfigurement,
disability, and chronic pain and suffering.
After two days of deliberation, the jury awarded Plaintiff
$40,777.19. Because Defendant filed a CCP
§998 Offer for $250,000, Defendant was able to recoup his $32,127.68 in costs
leaving a net judgment amount of $8,649.51.
Halvorson’s diverse practice focuses on trucking/transportation defense,
including commercial cargo and property loss, as well as on product liability,
dram shop, motor vehicle, and premises liability defense. In addition, Mr. Halvorson is Chair of the
firm’s Transportation, Auto, Products & General Liability practice group,
as well as the Chair of the firm’s annual client education seminar.