What follows is a summary of the largest settlement listings which ran in Wisconsin Law Journal’s Verdict & Settlement Reporter in 2009.
The largest settlement of the year was reported by attorneys Daniel Rottier and James Fergal, Habush Habush & Rottier. The remainder is reprinted below and edited for space. They are listed in order of the size of the settlement.
Semi Collision Kills Two, Injures One
- Court: Dane County
- Verdict or settlement/amount: Settlement, $6.9 million
- Date of incident: Aug. 17, 2004
- Disposition Date: July 23, 2009
- Plaintiff’s attorneys: David E. Rapoport, Paul D. Richter, Rapoport Law Offices, Chicago; Keith R. Clifford, Terrence M. Polich, Clifford & Raihala SC, Madison; Robert F. Foss, Baum, Hedlund Law Firm, Los Angeles
- Defense attorney: Jay R. Starrett, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC, Milwaukee
- Plaintiff’s experts: Robert Huntington MD; Gerald Lang MD; Frank Ochberg MD
Plaintiff counsel’s fact summary: A semi-tractor-trailer rear-ended plaintiffs’ car while it was stopped in traffic, killing two occupants and seriously injuring a third. Plaintiffs were a couple in their fifties and their four-year-old granddaughter. The grandfather, who survived, suffered a fractured left tibia and fibula repaired with intramedullary nailing and post-traumatic stress disorder. His wife died instantly. Their granddaughter died from traumatic asphyxiation as the car was crushed.
Impact with Semi Sends Jeep Airborne
Injuries: Right ankle fracture; herniation of the stomach and colon lodged into the abdomen; bilateral collapsed lungs; brain hemorrhage; cervical spine dislocation with bleeding into the cervical spinal cord; ligament disruption; nerve root injury at cervical and thoracic levels
- Case: Miller v. Buchanan and Struck & Irwin Paving
- Court: Washington County
- Verdict or settlement/amount: Pre-suit settlement, $6 million
- Original amount sought: $12 million
- Special damages: Past medical expenses: $979,469; past wage loss: $75,000
- Date of incident: May 23, 2007
- Plaintiff’s attorney: Timothy S. Trecek, Habush Habush & Rottier SC, Milwaukee
- Defense attorney: Gerald G. Schmidt, Schmidt, Darling & Erwin, Milwaukee
- Insurance carrier: West Bend Mutual Insurance
- Plaintiff’s experts: Dennis Skogen, reconstruction; Carl Rieken, trucking; Helen Woodard, life care planner; David Stopper, trucking
Plaintiff counsel’s fact summary: Plaintiff Miller was driving her Jeep Grand Cherokee eastbound on STH 33 near Addison, Wis. Defendant Buchanan was operating his semi-tractor trailer westbound on STH 33 at the same time. The collision occurred when Buchanan lost control of his truck and crossed the centerline into the path of Miller’s Jeep. According to witnesses, the impact of the Jeep striking the truck was so sudden and severe that it caused the rear of the Jeep to become airborne. Plaintiff’s theory was negligent management and control.
Jet Ski Explosion Causes Severe Injuries
- Injuries: Fracture dislocation of spinal cord at T12-L1 and other spinal cord injuries causing paraplegia; other personal injuries
- Case: Hart, et al. v. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., et al.
- Court: Racine County, 07CV1548
- Judge: Joseph McDevitt, mediator
- Verdict or settlement/amount: Settlement, $5.5 million
- Date of incident: July 15, 2005
- Disposition Date: July 13, 2009
- Plaintiff’s attorneys: Patrick O. Dunphy, Sarah F. Kaas, Cannon & Dunphy SC, Brookfield; James A. Pitts, Schoone, Leuck, Kelley, Pitts & Knurr SC, Racine
- Defense attorneys: For the Kawasaki defendants: Daniel J. LaFave, Christopher Meadows, Quarles & Brady LLP, Milwaukee; for Main, Marine & Ski and Sentry Insurance: Kevin A. Christensen, Leib & Katt SC, Milwaukee; for plaintiff Robert Jacobsen: Thomas M. Devine, Hostak Henzl & Bichler SC, Racine, and Chubb insurance; for Progressive Northern Insurance Co.: Frederick J. Strampe, Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen, Milwaukee
- Plaintiff’s experts: Gregory Davis, marine engineer; Greg Binversie, Phillip Dindinger, Michael Burleson, engineering; Anand R. Shah, materials engineer
- Defense experts: J. Paul Frantz, Kevin C. Breen, Robert K. Taylor, Donald E. Duvall, engineering
Plaintiff counsel’s fact summary: Plaintiff Hart was seated on plaintiff Jacobsen’s 1998 Kawasaki Sport Tourer Jet Ski. Jacobsen pressed the start button and it exploded. Hart was propelled into the air and landed on a nearby pier.
Plaintiffs’ theory was that an earlier Kawasaki recall and subsequent repair performed on the fuel system of the Jet Ski caused the primary fuel pump diaphragm to contact the aluminum cover plate of the fuel pump, causing a fatigue failure in the diaphragm, and causing gasoline to leak into the hull of the Jet Ski while it sat on a lift for several weeks. As a result of a loose battery cable, when the Jet Ski was started a spark from the battery that was located in the engine compartment ignited accumulated flammable vapors inside the Jet Ski hull.
Caregivers Missed Obvious Signs of Stroke
- Injuries: Total, permanent disability
- Case: Patton v. Brilla, et al.
- Court/case no.: Sheboygan County, 07-CV-376
- Judge: James Bolgert; mediator: Charles Stierman
- Verdict or settlement/amount: Setttlement, $4.5 million
- Date of incident: May 20, 2004
- Disposition Date: April 23, 2009
- Plaintiff’s attorney: Lynn R. Laufenberg, Laufenberg Law Group SC, Milwaukee
- Defense attorneys: For Dr. Brilla: Mark Larson, Gutglass, Erickson & Bonnville SC, Milwaukee; for Dr. Siddique: Michael P. Malone, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Milwaukee; for the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund: Jeremy Gill, Nash, Spindler, Grimstad & McCracken LLC, Manitowoc
- Plaintiff’s experts: Candice Perkins MD, Axel Rosengart MD, stroke neurology; Robert Peyster MD, neuroradiology; Gaston da Costa MD, general neurology; Henry Alba MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation; Rick Ruvin, home modifications; Ross K. Lynch Ph.D., vocational rehabilitation; David Ward Ph.D., economist
- Defense experts: Daniel Labovitz MD, stroke neurologist; Stephen Futterer MD, Victor Haughton MD, neuroradiology; Leonard Berlin MD, radiology; Lawrence Dineen, life care planning and vocational rehabilitation; Jubin Merati Ph.D., economist
- Plaintiff counsel’s fact summary: Patton is totally disabled by the effects of a stroke not timely diagnosed or treated.
Brilla, a neurologist, was negligent in failing to recognize the symptoms were evidence of brain stem transient ischemic attacks due to posterior circulation insufficiency. Dr. Siddique, a radiologist who read his MRI results, was negligent in failing to confirm that his claimed “stat report” of MRI findings was received and acted upon.
The plaintiffs’ experts testified that another MRI or other study of the vessels of the brain should have been done earlier and would’ve shown a significant narrowing of the basilar artery. They believe the brain stem stroke could probably have been prevented with the use of anticoagulants, close monitoring, and, if necessary, stenting of the artery.