Grandparents were babysitting their grandchildren, ages 2 and 4. A door from the house to the backyard and the gate into the pool area were mistakenly left unsecured and both children fell into a backyard pool and drowned. The homeowner’s insurance company refused to acknowledge that the drownings were two “occurrences.” The insurance issue was litigated and the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in our favor. (Read the decision here) The insurance company paid double its policy limits, a total of $1 million.
WRONGFUL DEATH/APARTMENT FIRE
A fire rapidly spread through an apartment resulting in the death of two babies and serious burns and brain injury to their grandmother. All three were heard screaming for help from the apartment kitchen area before succumbing to the fire. During litigation, it was learned that the apartment management had falsified evidence, hiding the fact that the kitchen door lock required a key to exit the apartment, in violation of the fire code. The apartment also had a non-functioning smoke alarm. Demand for settlement was made for $10.5 million. The case settled at private mediation with multiple insurance companies.
A 50 year old man was driving on Interstate 10 to his home near Tucson, having left his job in Phoenix late at night. An 18 wheeler was being driven at high speed on the wrong side of the freeway and struck the man’s vehicle head-on. Miraculously, he was not seriously hurt. Evidence established that the truck driver was disoriented due to having consumed multiple prescription drugs, believing he was in Savannah, Georgia, driving to a Piggly Wiggly store. During litigation, it was discovered that the trucking company failed to follow federal law when hiring the trucker. Case settled for insurance policy limits.
A 21 year old man was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle when an SUV entered the roadway in front of him, causing a t-bone collision. The man was seriously injured and required multiple surgeries and lengthy hospitalization. Private mediation was held and the case settled for $2,950,000.
SHOPPING MALL MURDER
A 31 year old man was shopping at a mall when he entered a men’s room near the food court. An assailant entered after him and, without provocation, stabbed the man to death. Investigation revealed that the assailant had attacked another person at the same mall a day earlier, but the mall management failed to alert the retail stores of that attack and failed to increase security. Further investigation established that the assailant was a mental patient who was not being properly maintained on his medications. Settlements were separately made with the shopping mall, the mental health facility and the assailant’s homeowner’s insurance company.
FREEWAY WRONGFUL DEATH
A 62 year old man, a father of two adult children, was driving a work truck from Tucson to Phoenix on Interstate 10 when his vehicle was side swiped by a car that was being driven at high speed. The impact caused the man to loose control of his vehicle, cross the highway median and collide with a tanker-truck traveling in the opposite direction. The man was killed instantly. The reckless driver was criminally prosecuted and had only minimum liability insurance. Settlement was made with the insurance companies that provided the deceased father’s under-insurance coverage. Settlement totaled $1,045,000.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE/HEART TRANSPLANT
A 35 year old woman had a serious heart condition. She married and told her cardiologist that she wanted to have a baby. According to the woman, the cardiologist encouraged her to do so. During the course of the pregnancy, the woman went into congestive heart failure. The infant survived by virtue of an emergency c-section. However, the woman’s condition continued to deteriorate. Her heart was removed and she remained hospitalized on an artificial heart for 16 months until she received a transplant. During the course of litigation, it was discovered that the cardiologist falsified key medical records. Case settled prior to trial.
57 year old realtor was doing a morning bicycle ride in his residential area. The roadway appeared clear behind him and he left the bicycle lane to cross-over into the left turn lane at the upcoming intersection. The defendant was driving his car at more than twice the speed limit and rapidly approached the bicyclist, striking him from behind. The realtor suffered serious injury to his back and hip and required several surgeries. During litigation, it was determined that the defendant was talking on his cell phone at the time of the collision. The case settled during private mediation.
DENTAL MALPRACTICE/WRONGFUL DEATH
59 year old man, married with a disabled daughter, underwent invasive dental procedures, including treatment for an abscessed tooth. The dentist failed to take an adequate medical history which would have revealed that the man had a depressed immune system and was at high risk for infection. The dentist also failed to prescribe antibiotics and, days later, the man died from a rapidly spreading cellulitis that was a direct result of his dental care. Suit was filed but the case settled at mediation.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE/BRAIN INJURY
60 year old man, married with two adult children, underwent heart surgery to replace his mitral valve. Post-surgery, he suffered a devastating anoxic brain injury when he stopped breathing while being placed on a ventilator in the ICU. Medical experts retained to testify at trial were highly critical of both surgical procedures and the post-surgical care. Mediation was conducted at an early point in litigation and the case settled.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT/INSURANCE BAD FAITH
71 year old female retiree was driving her car when she was struck by another vehicle that turned in front of her. The woman required lower back surgery. Although she had a history of back problems, the insurance company for the responsible driver paid policy limits. ($250,000) The woman’s own insurance company refused to pay any additional amount under her under-insurance coverage, claiming that New Mexico law applied and precluded coverage, even though the woman had moved to Arizona 6 years earlier. Suit was filed against her insurance company for bad faith. The insurance company settled by paying an additional $350,000.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE/PERMANENT SCARRING
Teenage female was experiencing a rash on her legs from shaving and was prescribed a potent topical steroid by her physician. The medication should have only been used with proper physician monitoring and for a short duration. Instead, the physician prescribed it continuously for over two years, resulting in permanent scarring to the teenagers calves and thighs. A confidential settlement was made prior to litigation.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT/INSURANCE BAD FAITH
48 year old fireman was on his way home from a work shift. As he slowed to avoid a collision with an on-coming vehicle that was approaching on the wrong side of the roadway, he was rear-ended by another vehicle. The driver of the on-coming vehicle was never identified. The fireman required neck surgery. Settlement was made with the insurance carrier for the vehicle driver who collided with the fireman’s vehicle for the limits of liability coverage ($25,000). The fireman was insured by the same company and a claim was made for the limits of both his uninsured and under-insured coverage. The insurance company offered $12,000 to settle. Suit was filed, claiming the company was in bad faith. Case settled prior to trial for $200,000.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
44 year old male, a computer consultant, was traveling through an intersection when the defendant turned her vehicle in from of his, causing a collision. The defendant claimed she had a green arrow. The computer consultant underwent back surgery and suffered loss of income. With thorough investigative efforts, additional witnesses were found who testified at depositions that the light was green for the computer consultant, not a green arrow for the defendant. Defendant was also forced to produce her medical records that showed she was ordered by her doctor not to drive because of a knee injury. Case settled prior to trial for $550,000.