James P. Devine Obtains Defense Verdict
(5/15/12) Mr. Devine's client, insured by Country Financial, was sued for personal injuries by her tenant who tripped and fell on a rut on her premises. The rut was located on a lawn, adjacent to the parking lot for the premises used by the tenant. The insured admitted that this area was plagued by ruts over the years, but that she considered this to be a nuisance rather than a safety hazard because the area was seldom traveled and because the ruts were generally very large and visible. On the day of the incident, the rut in question was concealed by a vehicle which was blocking the plaintiff’s exit from the lot. The plaintiff walked around the vehicle in order to put a note on it, stepped in a rut and fell, breaking his foot. The foot did not heal properly, and after three surgeries, the plaintiff had incurred over $100,000 in medical bills and was confirmed to have a chronic pain condition, permanent in nature, which prevented him from normally using his right foot. This was especially troublesome to the plaintiff, who was an accomplished drummer by profession. In high school, the plaintiff was with a drum corps, which won three national titles in a single year, and he won a state championship. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, and was part of the elite "Commandant’s Own" a musical unit. Over the years he has performed and taught with many famous drummers. He claimed to have lost past and future income in excess of $200,000.
Prior to trial, plaintiff demanded the policy limits of $1 million, threatening to pursue the landlord for her personal assets in the event of an excess verdict. The pre-trial offer was $20,000.
The plaintiff's attorney asked the jury to award his client $1,574,850. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff was not entitled to any damages because the defendant was not negligent.