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Edward W. Hearn: Representative Cases

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  • In a case of first impression, obtained a directed verdict in favor of a hospital client in a negligent credentialing dispute. Plaintiffs are seeking millions of dollars alleging Johnson & Bell’s client negligently credentialed a cardiologist who allegedly performed unnecessary surgeries in more than 300 cases. This is the first case of its kind because it invokes a review of a hospital credentialing process and seeks to hold hospitals responsible for independent physicians on their respective staffs.  By securing this directed verdict in its client’s favor, the Johnson & Bell trial team has helped set a precedent for the other pending cases and any other case against a hospital involving its credentialing processes.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in a lawsuit where plaintiff claimed traumatic brain injury in a premises liability case.  In this case, the plaintiff claimed that he was injured during a ride at an amusement park in Indiana.  Plaintiff claimed that the safety restraint on the seat behind him came loose and struck him from behind three times.  Plaintiff claimed a traumatic brain injury (concussion and post concussive syndrome) from the incident and sought $600,000 in damages.  In addition, plaintiff complained of headaches, nausea and memory problems. Defense countered by introducing evidence that the incident could not have occurred as the plaintiff claimed because it was not possible for the restraint to come loose.  Defense also provided medical records that showed plaintiff had numerous pre-existing problems with memory and cognition. After three days of trial in White County, Indiana, the jury deliberated for one hour before returning a verdict in favor of the defense.
  • Secured a defense verdict from Judge Alexa for an insurance company and its insured party, wherein the plaintiff sought $1.8 million in damages. The case involved a 20-year-old male who was riding a moped and collided with our client, a driver of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The plaintiff claimed that the driver of the Harley-Davidson crossed the center line, passed an automobile, and when the plaintiff went to make a left hand turn, struck the plaintiff on his moped.  Plaintiff filed a suit for liability and damages arguing that the accident with the Harley-Davidson caused him to shatter his pelvis, suffer a compression fracture of his spine and later develop chronic regional pain syndrome to his left foot.  The defendant claimed that the plaintiff was riding the “fog line” on the road and made no indication that he planned to make a left-hand turn.  When the operator of the Harley-Davidson went to pass him, the moped driver veered left and struck his motorcycle.
  • Obtained a favorable result for an insurance company, where the court ruled that it was entitled to declaratory judgement and had no duty to defend or indemnify the defendant. This case concerned a motorcycle accident involving two passengers: a male driver and a female passenger.  Both individuals suffered serious injuries.  However, the motorcycle involved in the accident was owned by a third individual, who argued that he never gave permission to the defendants to use his motorcycle.  The female passenger filed suit against the man operating the motorcycle.  That individual in turn sought coverage under the motorcycle owner’s policy.  The driver of the motorcycle argued that because he and the owner of the motorcycle belonged to the same Outlaws Motorcycle Club and that the Club’s creed suggested a shared ownership of property, he had implied permission to use the motorcycle.  However, the court interpreted the Club’s creed to mean that each member’s property is their own and their individual property rights are to be respected.  The court concluded that the male driver did not have express or implied permission to use the owner’s motorcycle and entered a declaratory judgment in favor of Johnson & Bell’s client.
  • Obtained a favorable result for a trucking company in federal court in South Bend, Indiana.  In this case, the trucking company admitted fault, as its driver, who died as a result of the accident, rear-ended the plaintiff.  The plaintiff was also in a semi-truck and stopped at a red light when the collision occurred.  During the five-day jury trial, plaintiff asked the jury for $1.75 million during opening and again on closing.  The jury came back with a verdict of $300,000.  Prior to the jury trial, attempted to resolve the matter through mediation.  During mediation, the mediator, Judge Duffin, suggested that the Defendants pay $450,000.  Plaintiff said it would take no less than $850,000 and mediation ended.
  • Obtained summary judgment from Judge Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in favor of our client, a school corporation. The case involved claims by plaintiff that he had been mistreated by school officials related to his seizure events while in high school.  Plaintiff also alleged that the school had wrongfully denied him an education. In addition, he alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other state law claims against the school. We convinced Judge Hamilton to grant summary judgment in favor of our client. The court's 28-page opinion analyzed the various claims of the plaintiff and concluded that it was undisputed that the school did not violate the ADA and was not guilty of state law negligence.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a fencing products manufacturer involved in an employment discrimination/wrongful termination lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court, Northern District, Indiana.  Digger Specialties, Inc., a Bremen, IN manufacturer of fencing products for the housing industry, was forced to lay off a significant portion of its workforce due to the housing industry collapse.  Two of its employees claimed that their layoff/termination violated federal employment laws.  Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that they were singled out by Digger's management since they were not Amish (i.e., religious reasons) or because they were older employees (i.e., age discrimination), or both.  Plaintiffs pointed to the relatively few complaints regarding their past work performance as alleged evidence of discriminatory intent on the part of their employer in terminating them.  The defense filed a motion for summary judgment in the federal court case arguing that the basis for plaintiffs' terminations was the economic downturn.  Moreover, defense argued that, due to this downturn, plaintiffs were no longer meeting their employer's expectations.  The federal court agreed and dismissed plaintiffs' case entirely.  Importantly, the district court recognized that, while normally a lack or paucity of disciplinary complaints may be used by an employee to show a discriminatory basis for termination that is not necessarily true in the wake of an economic downturn.  Specifically, the court reasoned that, when the economy changes, so does an employer's expectation with regard to the performance of an employee such that an employee who is meeting expectations during an economic boom, might not be meeting the employer's expectations in an economic crisis.  The court found that this was the case especially for an employer with business operations tied so heavily to the housing industry. The court granted Mr. Hearn's motion and dismissed the case.
  • Obtained a favorable result for a retailer in Lake County, Indiana. In this case, the plaintiff was injured when a shelf in the store broke and product struck the plaintiff on the back. The retailer admitted fault for improperly placing the shelf that fell, but challenged the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and the damages sought. The plaintiff ultimately claimed that she required surgery on both her neck and shoulder, claiming medical expenses were over $140,000, with lost wages of about $20,000. According to a medical expert, the plaintiff completed her treatment for the store incident in December 2010, prior to the surgeries.  Mr. Hearn successfully argued that the surgeries were unrelated to the incident and were due to an auto accident that occurred later. The plaintiff’s final demand was $615,000, asking the jury for $996,000. After a 3-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $130,000.
  • Defended insurance company in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit filed by a homeowner.  The dispute arose over an uncooperative public adjuster.  The case was tried in Lake County Indiana over five days and resulted in a defense verdict for insurer on all claims.  Later, the homeowners retained Mr. Hearn to prosecute malpractice claim for loss of property damage claim against the public adjuster.  That case resulted in a favorable settlement for the insureds against the public adjuster.
  • Defended a large real estate company operating a shopping mall in a lawsuit filed by an HVAC technician who fell while trying to access the facility’s roof via a roof hatch.  Technician suffered a brain injury and claimed an inability to work.  At trial, the plaintiff asked jury for $8.5 million.  After a one-week trial, the jury returned a verdict for $1.3 million.