Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Meiko L. Ogura and Garrett L. Boehm, Jr., secured a defense verdict in favor of their car dealer client. In this eight-day trial, the plaintiff, a sales employee of the car dealer, claimed a single injury caused by four separate automobile accidents over a nine-year period. Our dispute involved the third accident of the four. The dispute was further complicated because of a lengthy history of medical care and the need for jury instructions and verdict forms for four separate cases being tried as one.
In our case, a customer of the car dealer was test driving a vehicle in a snow storm when the car slid on ice and ran into another car. The plaintiff was in the car during the test drive and alleged he was injured as a result of the accident.
Defense argued that the car dealer customer was driving carefully and well under the speed limit, and was not negligent at the time of the accident. The defense also argued that the plaintiff, was comparatively negligent since he was in control of the test drive, could have stopped the test drive at any time, but allowed the test drive to continue when it was unsafe to do so. In addition, defense argued that plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries at most as a result of the accident.
Prior to trial, plaintiff counsel indicated he would never settle the case for under $1,000,000. The four defendants offered approximately $150,000 to settle the case. At the conclusion of the trial, which again was trying four separate cases as one, the jury found the driver in the first accident liable, but found the drivers in the other three accidents not liable. The jury awarded the plaintiff $2,125 in damages for the first accident.