Don O’Keefe Successfully Reduces Plaintiff Award in Personal Injury Claim

PS Partner: Don O’Keefe

We represented: Safeco Insurance Company (for Michael Halley)

 Venue:  Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri

Facts:

Jamie Hathaway and his wife, who was a passenger, sued Michael Halley over a February 8, 2010 collision at the intersection of Missouri Highway 141 and Manchester Road.  Hathaway’s 2002 Volkswagon Golf was struck from behind by Halley’s 2006 Buick Lucerne while he was waiting at a red light on southbound Highway 141.

Hathaway sought chiropractic treatment for neck pain the following day.  He later had cervical disk replacement surgery, incurring $130,000 in medical expenses of which $100,000 was paid.  Halley disputed Hathaway’s account of the accident, claiming that the accident happened as he (Halley) was pulling forward to his left as Hathaway was attempting a right turn and that Hathaway’s car was on the road’s shoulder at the time of impact.

The final pretrial demand was $845,000 which was countered with a $100,000 offer by Don O’Keefe that represented Halley’s insurance policy limits.  At trial the defense disputed medical causation by summoning two expert witnesses who testified that Hathaway’s disc surgery was the result of “an ongoing degenerative process.” A third defense expert, an engineer, testified the force of the impact was equivalent to “walking up stairs or sitting down in a chair”.

After five days of testimony, the jury found Halley 75% responsible and Hathaway 25% at fault, awarding the plaintiff $11,440 which was the cost of his chiropractic care and resulting in a new award of $8,580 to the plaintiff.

Last Demand: $845,000

Last Offer: $100,000

Award:  $8,580

Verdict:  Defendant’s Verdict

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