$34,750 Verdict in Hennepin County

Denise Fullerton’s client, at 29 years of age, was rear-ended and pushed into the vehicle ahead of him while he was stopped in highway traffic in September 2000. Following this collision, he claimed to suffer neck and back pain, with right arm radicular symptoms. He was eventually diagnosed with a herniated cervical disk which ultimately required fusion surgery. The surgery was not successful in resolving his symptoms. The defense alleged symptom magnification and dependence upon narcotic pain medication. He continues to suffer neck and right arm pain as well as headaches.

Causation was the primary issue in this trial. Prior to this collision, he had suffered neck injuries on several occasions, the most recent of which was from a motorcycle accident only 2½ months before this collision. He was not wearing a helmet in that incident, had suffered a neck strain and road rash, and was required to wear a neck brace and miss time from work. Of considerable concern to the jury, and significant problem to the case, he had failed to follow up on a neurological consult he was instructed to have following the motorcycle accident. The jury ultimately felt that the majority of the damage to his neck had been caused following the June 2000 motorcycle accident, and very little by the September 2000 accident.

Prior to trial, Ms. Fullerton was able to obtain a stipulation with the defense preventing certain character evidence from being presented which might have prejudiced the jury. Despite this, the jury felt that her client was on a path of destruction, both in not caring for himself by getting appropriate medical care following his motorcycle accident, and in overuse of narcotic pain mediation.

During trial, Ms. Fullerton was able to defeat a motion by the defense which would have prevented a claim for future medical expenses. The best offer before trial was $16,000. Despite all the obstacles, Ms. Fullerton was still able to secure a verdict of $34,750 for her client.

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