Johnson & Bell Shareholders, Gregory D. Conforti and Lynn M. Reid, received a favorable verdict for their client in the case of Larry Shreve, Debbie Shreve v. Douglas Swalec, Verizon North Inc. Having been transferred onto the case only three and a half weeks prior to going to trial, the defense offered $3.25 million and indicated that additional money was available, but the plaintiff refused to come off its $12 million demand. During the trial Johnson & Bell contended that the defense was liable, but disputed the nature, extent and permanency of the injuries involved. The jury ended up awarding the plaintiff just over $3.2 million.
The case, which developed from an April 5, 2006 vehicle accident, involved a Verizon North, Inc. service van which was being operated by Douglas Swalec. Mr. Swalec turned directly in front of Larry Shreve, a 51-year-old male, as he rode his motorcycle in the opposite direction at approximately 45 mph. Mr. Shreve struck the passenger side of the van and was catapulted off his bike head first into the side of the van. He was air lifted to St. Anthony Hospital in Rockford, Illinois where he was primarily treated for severe facial fractures, loss of a majority of his teeth, and a displaced fracture of his elbow into the elbow joint. He subsequently underwent surgery to insert plates in his face with multiple screws to reconstruct it, surgery to his elbow, including a 7” rod and pins, dental reconstructive surgery and later had a cerebral spinal fluid leak repair surgery that involved removal of a large section of his skull in the forehead area in order to complete the repair.
The defense contended that the plaintiffs were overreaching in their damages claims and pointed out to the jurors in closing that although Mr. Shreve did in fact suffer serious and permanent injuries, the plaintiffs’ calling of both emergency room doctors, two different neuropsychologists and 11 video evidence depositions was geared toward an attempt to have the jury render an award that was not fair and reasonable based on the evidence. The defense also pointed out to the jurors that one of the plaintiffs’ neuropsychologist was somewhat critical of the other of the plaintiffs’ neuropsychologist and that the plaintiffs’ neuropsychologist had not seen some significant information that established that the plaintiff had made a better recovery than had been shown in the last records reviewed by the plaintiffs’ expert, including the plaintiff’s ability to drive an automobile, hold a limited part-time job, work as a handyman for neighbors and friends and to work on a very limited basis with the volunteer fire department that he had previously worked very closely with before his accident.