Kansas City Personal Injury Law Blog

Verdicts and Settlements

$2.2 million verdict for 85-year-old woman severely injured in a motor vehicle accident

Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd., won a $2.2 million verdict in rural Franklin County, Mo., for an 85-year-old woman severely injured in a motor vehicle accident.

In August 2011, Katherine Shea, then 83 years old, was driving to her home in Sullivan, Mo., after an annual doctor’s checkup in Washington, Mo. She had passed the exam with flying colors and with no complaints of pain or physical disability.

As Katherine was on a two lane road that paralleled Interstate 44, a 17-year-old employee of a local diner approached from the opposite direction. He swerved across the center line to avoid a dog that he would later testify was on the edge of the road. Although Katherine moved right to try to avoid the teenager’s vehicle, the two hit head on-entirely in Katherine’s lane of traffic.

Lynn Johnson and John Parisi represented Katherine in a claim against the 17-year-old driver and his employer, the Du Kum Inn, a longtime diner that was owned by the teen’s aunts.

Katherine suffered devastating injuries in the collision. She was extricated from her car and flown to St. Louis for emergency care. She sustained multiple orthopedic injuries, including fractures to her hip, pelvis, ribs, ankles, feet, elbow, knee, and hand.

Based on the testimony of the 17-year-old driver, the report of the Missouri Highway Patrol and the opinions of our accident reconstruction expert, we alleged the teenager was negligent for driving too fast on a blind curve, failing to keep a proper lookout to see the dog in time to stop or slow his vehicle, crossing the center line into oncoming traffic, and failing to move back into his lane of traffic after passing the dog.

Defendants argued that the teenager acted reasonably to avoid the dog, which they claimed created an emergency. One of the aunts argued the teenager was not in the scope and course of his employment, claiming the teen was merely doing a favor for the other aunt. At the close of evidence, the Court ruled as a matter of law that the teenager was acting within the scope of his employment and/or agency for the Du Kum Inn.

Testimony from Katherine’s friends and family illustrated that before the collision Katherine was a vibrant woman whose health corresponded to someone 20 years younger. She lived independently in her own home, drove wherever she needed to go, and did her own shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning. She had painted the interior of her house without help and had done all of her yard work.

On October 3, 2013, after four days of trial and four hours of deliberation, a Franklin County jury returned a verdict of $2,162,000 in favor of Katherine. In addition, Katherine is entitled to pre-judgment interest in the amount of $100,335. The jury heard evidence that Katherine’s paid medical bills totaled $185,000 and that the amount billed by providers totaled $800,000. The present value of Katherine’s care requirements, as presented by plaintiff’s expert, was approximately $2 million.

Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd., is proud to have represented Katherine and pleased with the jury’s verdict in favor of this most deserving and wonderful client. The funds will allow Katherine to live as independently as possible for the remainder of her life.