Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC successfully negotiated a substantial confidential settlement in the high six figures for our female client who was involved in a violent rear end wreck with a large oil field service truck in Corpus Christi, Texas. The oil field service company hired a 23 year old employee and allowed him to permissively operate a company truck without performing any background check on him or providing him any driver training. A simple check of his driving record would have revealed a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated less than two (2) years prior to the company hiring him. The young employee violently slammed into the back of our client’s vehicle as a result of being distracted while driving the truck. Additionally, his cell phone records contained information indicating he was likely on the phone at the time of the violent wreck. This violent wreck caused our client to sustain significant injuries and and also resulted in her vehicle being declared a total loss. Our client sustained injuries, including a broken arm, injuries to her thighs, mild traumatic brain injury and herniated disks in her neck for which her treating neurosurgeon recommended surgery. She had not had the surgery at the time the case was resolved in July, 2015.
On May 18, 2014, plaintiff Lisa M. Brewer (“Brewer”),52, was driving a 2005 Chevrolet 1500 pickup north on State Highway 80 in Luling, Texas. Gerardo Sandoval (“Sandoval”) was southbound in a 2007 Freightliner owned by Downing Transportation Inc. Sandoval suddenly and unexpectedly attempted a left turn in front of Brewer, and the vehicles collided. Sandoval was cited for failing to yield the right of way in connection with the wreck. Brewer was not issued any citations.
Sandoval’s employer was Downing Transportation, Inc. (“Downing”) and he was driving the truck in the course and scope of his employment for Downing or its subsidiary, G&D Trucking Inc.(“G&D”).
Brewer sued Sandoval for failure to yield the right of way and making an unsafe left turn. She sued Downing and G&D on a theory of respondeat superior because Sandoval was employed by one or both of the Defendants and was driving the truck in the course and scope of his employment.
The electronic control module (ECM) download from Brewer’s vehicle showed that she was traveling at an appropriate speed at the time of the wreck. The Defendants did not contest that the wreck was Sandoval’s fault.
Ms. Brewer’s injuries included herniated discs at C5-6, C6-7, L4-5 and L5-S1. Ms. Brewer also sustained injuries to her head, arm and shoulder. Ms. Brewer was transported by ambulance to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas where she underwent extensive testing and treatment on the date of the wreck.
Ms. Brewer underwent conservative treatment for her injuries, including attempting physical therapy. However, the physical therapy caused her pain and her pain management doctor ordered her to stop it. She underwent a series of epidural steroid injections (“ESIs”) and follow up MRIs of her cervical and lumbar spine were performed at Brio MRI in San Antonio. Her pain management doctor, Dr. Gutierrez, then referred her for a surgical consult with noted neurosurgeon Karl Swann, M.D. in San Antonio. Dr. Swann recommended she undergo an anterior cervical discectomy and cage interbody fusion with allograft and anterior plating at C5-6 and C6-7. This surgery was performed by Dr. Swann on May 13, 2015.
Ultimately, at the request of Defendants, an informal settlement conference was held at Defendants’ attorneys’ office in San Antonio, Texas and the case was resolved.
Top 10 things to do if you are injured by a product:
by Daryl L. Derryberry, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC
- Contact a lawyer immediately to prevent the product from being destroyed or disposed of. An attorney can send a spoliation letter to preserve the product for inspection which is crucial to your case. Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney.
- Obtain the name of the product manufacturer and the make and model number of the product.
- Send all worker’s compensation forms, if any, to your lawyer before signing.
- Take photographs of your injuries if possible.
- Take photographs of the scene of the incident if possible.
- Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or company representative without consulting with an attorney.
- Immediately seek medical attention at a hospital or from a doctor if you are injured. If you do not seek medical attention, then the insurance company and/or product manufacturer will contend that you delayed in treatment and are not injured.
- If you do not have health insurance, contact an attorney. We may be able to assist you in obtaining medical care.
- Prepare a brief summary of the incident. Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes. This is helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the incident.
- Obtain a police report if one is available.
Daryl L. Derryberry is one of the two founding partners of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC (the “Firm”). Daryl and Craig Zips started the Firm in May, 2002 and have enjoyed great success since the Firm’s inception. Daryl’s legal career spans two decades and includes successfully securing jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients in oil rig accidents, 18 wheeler wrecks, medical negligence, products liability, broker malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and other cases.
Our client, age 52, and employed as an inventory specialist, was turning into her employer’s parking lot from a two-lane road in Tyler, Texas. Austin Gray, in a Ford F-350 pickup, attempted to pass her on the right, and the vehicles collided. Our client was in a mid-size sedan. Gray was in the course and scope of his employment with LCR-M, L.P. He received a ticket for passing unsafely on the right and did not contest the ticket.
Our client sued Gray for passing unsafely on the right and causing the wreck. She also sued LCR-M under respondeat superior. Our client testified that Gray actually entered the parking lot to pass her on the right and that the impact occurred in the parking lot. Gray and LCR-M contended that our client was stopped in the middle of the road without her turn signal on and that the wreck occurred on the road.
Our client went to the ER later the night of the wreck and again the next morning. She sustained an internal disc disruption at L4-5. She tried physical therapy, but testified it did not provide her any relief from the constant pain. She underwent pain management with injections and then, on 4/16/13, an anterior lumbar fusion and posterolateral lumbar fusion at L3-4 and L4-5 was performed on her.
Our client’s paid medical bills were about $90,000. She also claimed past and future loss of household services, past and future loss of earning capacity, past and future disfigurement, past and future physical impairment, and past and future physical pain and mental anguish.
Our client had been working full time and making $13 an hour. The Social Security Administration declared plaintiff completely disabled as a result of the injuries she sustained in the wreck.
The Defendants contended that the impact was minor and that our client’s back injury could not have been caused by the wreck because the vehicle photos showed little damage to either vehicle.
The Defendants also contended that our client’s lower back problems were related to injuries she sustained in a rollover wreck around 1989. In that wreck, our client sustained compression fractures at L3 and L4, and the Defendants argued that this prior injury necessitated her surgery, not this wreck.
The Defendants further argued that our client’s earnings history was insufficient to support her claim for future lost earning capacity. And, the Defendants disputed our client’s need for any future surgery or other future medical treatment.
Finally, the Defendants note that our client’s workers’ compensation carrier determined that our client’s lower back injury was a preexisting injury related to the 1989 rollover and not related to this wreck. Despite this contention, our firm was able to negotiate a $400,000 settlement of this case for our client at mediation as reported by Verdict Search.
From Bloomberg News:
C.R. Bard Inc. and four other makers of vaginal-mesh implants accused of injuring women are in talks to settle thousands of lawsuits, people familiar with the discussions said.
Lawyers for Bard, Endo Health Solutions Inc. (ENDP), Boston Scientific Corp. (BSX) and two other companies making vaginal inserts to support women’s pelvic muscles and treat incontinence have begun talks about settling all suits over their products, the people familiar with the matter said. Johnson & Johnson, which also faces suits over the inserts, isn’t involved in the talks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Boston Scientific said in an August regulatory filing it faces more than 12,000 suits over its vaginal devices. Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg News
Patients’ lawyers want U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia, who is overseeing federal suits targeting the implants, to appoint a settlement committee, the people said. The group would include plaintiffs’ lawyers Henry Garrard, lead counsel on the Bard cases, and Joe Rice, a lawyer who helped negotiate a $246 billion tobacco-litigation accord on behalf of state attorneys general, the people said.
“I know you all are considering settlement protocols and the possibility of resolutions,” Goodwin said at a Sept. 18 court hearing. He noted the talks were going on “behind the scenes.”
The discussions are aimed at resolving more than 30,000 implant suits already filed that have been consolidated before Goodwin for pre-trial information exchanges, the people said. The talks also include insert makers Coloplast A/S (COLOB) and Cook Medical Inc., they said.
The total number of suits could swell to more than 50,000 as more claimants seek to join the potential settlement, the people said.
“The liability seems pretty clear on these cases, so settlement makes sense,” Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said in an interview. “Given how serious the injuries are and the number of cases, when you do the math, you can easily come up with a multibillion-dollar settlement.”
Scott Lowry, a spokesman for Murray Hill, New Jersey-based Bard, didn’t return a call and an e-mail seeking comment on the settlement talks. Ulla Lunhus, a Coloplast spokeswoman, said she couldn’t comment on the talks.
“We are following a process that is in accordance with U.S. law,” she said in a phone interview. “As long as that process is ongoing, we are not able to make any comment about it.”
Marsha Lovejoy, a spokeswoman for Bloomington, Indiana-based Cook; Peter Lucht, a spokesman for Natick, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific; and Blaine Davis, a spokesman for Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Endo declined to comment on the talks.
Bard’s implants have been targeted in more than 12,000 cases while Boston Scientific said in an August regulatory filing it faces more than 12,000 suits over its vaginal devices.
Endo’s American Medical Systems Inc. unit faces about 13,500 vaginal-mesh claims between state and federal suits, Davis said in an interview. Coloplast and Cook face about 1,000 claims combined, the people added.
J&J faced 12,250 pelvic mesh claims through June 30, according to a regulatory filing. Sheri Woodruff, a spokeswoman for the Ethicon unit of New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J, said it would be “inappropriate” to discuss litigation involving other manufacturers.
“Ethicon is now focusing on trying to efficiently manage thousands of unverified and possibly unfounded complaints,” Woodruff said in an e-mail. The company will “request dismissal of meritless claims, including claims with no compensable injury, claims barred by the statute of limitations, misfiled claims, and improperly filed claims.”
Some manufacturers, such as Bard and Endo, already have settled some suits over the devices. Earlier this year, Endo officials paid $54.5 million to settle an unspecified number of cases alleging the company’s vaginal-mesh inserts were defective.
Coloplast, based in Humlebaek, Denmark, is the furthest along with talks to settle all of the more than 600 cases it faces over its vaginal implants, the people said. The company is aiming to resolve all litigation over the devices by the end of the year, they added.
Bard officials also have settled some vaginal-mesh cases after losing two trials over the devices. A California state court jury last year found Bard liable for a woman’s injuries related to an Avaulta implant in the first case to go trial in a U.S. court. Jurors said the company should pay $5.5 million in damages. Bard is liable for $3.6 million under that state’s law.
Goodwin presided at the first federal trial of claims over Bard’s Avaulta Plus vaginal mesh in August. A jury ordered the company to pay a total of $2 million in damages to a Georgia woman who said the device damaged her organs.
Bard officials pulled the Avaulta implants off the market last year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered all makers of the devices to study rates of organ damage, infection and pain during sex linked to their products.
Bard faces more than 8,000 federal claims over Avaulta, which women allege can cause organ damage and make sexual intercourse painful when the devices erode.
J&J, which opted out of settlement talks, has battled court claims against its withdrawn line of vaginal implants. A New Jersey jury ruled in February the company must pay $11.1 million in damages to a woman who blamed J&J’s Gynecare Prolift for her injuries. It was the first case over the devices to go to trial.
Officials of J&J’s Ethicon unit told Goodwin last year they would stop selling some vaginal implants after suits over the devices. The company’s executives have declined to participate in settlement talks, the people said.
“I expect Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to discuss settlement when they think the time is right,” Adam Slater, a New Jersey lawyer who won the February verdict against the company over vaginal devices, said in an interview. Slater said he is preparing for his next trial in March 2014.
Goodwin said in the September hearing that he’s struggling to find ways to move the “mountain” of vaginal-mesh cases through the federal courts and is considering combining multiple plaintiffs’ claims for trial.
“I’m going to keep the bulldozer moving to deal with these cases,” he said.
Lawyers for women suing over the inserts have recommended that Goodwin tap plaintiff lawyers Garrard, Rice, Bryan Aylstock of Florida and Clayton Clark, a Texas-based litigator, for a settlement committee empowered to conduct talks with all mesh manufacturers, the people said.
Rice, one of the architects of the 1998 tobacco settlement, is known for his ability to put together accords in high-profile cases. Last year, the 59-year-old lawyer helped negotiate a now $9.6 billion settlement of suits against BP Plc (BP/) over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He declined to comment on his role in the vaginal-mesh talks.
The vaginal-mesh litigation poses a challenge for Rice and other settlement negotiators because they are faced with cases over more than 50 different implants manufactured by six different companies, the people said. Some of those products have been pulled from the market while others are still being implanted, they added.
Rice is focusing his attention first on cases involving American Medical Systems’ inserts, the people said. Ellen Reisman, a Los Angeles-based lawyer representing the device maker, was one of BP’s lawyers in Gulf oil spill settlement announced last year, they noted. Reisman was at the Sept. 18 hearing in West Virginia.
The Bard consolidated cases are In re C.R. Bard Inc. (BCR) Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, 10-md-02187, U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston). The J&J consolidated cases are: In re Ethicon Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, 12-md-2327 U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston).
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at firstname.lastname@example.org
Top 10 things to do if you are injured in an accident, including a car accident or 18 wheeler accident.
By Craig Zips, Member of Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC
- Immediately call the police or 911 to report the accident, do not leave the scene of the accident and attempt to ensure the other party also stays at the scene.
- Contact a lawyer immediately. The insurance company for the at fault driver and your insurance company will act only to protect their respective financial interests. The insurance companies only care about saving their money. Do not sign any documents prior to consulting with an attorney.
- Attempt to identify any witnesses to the accident and write down their names, addresses and telephone numbers. If possible, also write down their license plate numbers.
- Exchange the following information with the other driver; name, address and telephone number, make and model of the car or 18 wheeler, license plate number, the other driver’s employer, if applicable, if the driver does not own the car then obtain the name, address and telephone number of the owner of the car or 18 wheeler, obtain all insurance information, including the name of the insurance agent for the other driver. Also, if the accident involves and 18 wheeler then write down the Unites States Department of Transportation (“US DOT”) number that is typically located somewhere on the tractor or trailer.
- Write down any statements that are made by the other driver that indicate the other driver is at fault. These statements may be used against the other driver and/or their employer in settlement negotiations or if a lawsuit is filed. Conversely, do not make any statements to the other driver or witnesses in connection with the accident. Please remember to make sure that any statements made to the police are truthful and accurate. Do not guess or speculate about any answer to any question asked by the investigating officer.
- Take photographs of the property damage to your car and the other car(s) or 18 wheeler while you are at the scene of the accident. Also take photos of the accident scene, including any visual obstructions, road signs, speed limits signs, and any skid marks made by any vehicle involved in the accident.
- Immediately seek medical treatment if you are even slightly injured. Sometimes accident victims can sustain internal injuries without realizing he/she is injured. Internal injuries can be fatal if not treated. Do not be embarrassed to ask for an ambulance if you have been injured in any manner. Please also make sure you attend all doctor and physical therapy appointments. If you miss these appointments, then the insurance company will argue these missed appointments mean you are not really hurt.
- Do not give any written or recorded statements to any insurance company or insurance company representative without consulting with an attorney.
- Prepare a brief summary of the accident. Our memories fade about the details of an accident as time passes. These notes about the accident will be helpful later in jogging your memory of the details of the accident. Also, keep a daily diary of your medical visits, as well as a daily diary of the pain you are experiencing after the accident.
- Obtain a police report if one is available.
Craig Zips is one of the two founding members of the firm now known as Derryberry Zips Wade Lawhorn, PLLC. He is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and has been given the premier AV rating by Martindale Hubbell. Craig has represented numerous clients for over 15 years in a variety of litigation matters, from complex commercial matters, including business disputes and securities fraud, as well as the representation of plaintiffs in serious injury cases.