Articles Posted in Michigan

In Oakland County, Michigan, a jury awarded a $130 million settlement on behalf of a boy suffering from cerebral palsy. The jury found two medical technicians liable for causing the child’s severe and permanent brain damage that resulted in cerebral palsy. The $130 million incident was one of the largest jury settlements in Michigan history.

The Facts of the Case

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the boy and his mother in 2016. The child was 2 months old when the injury occurred in 2006. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the child requires help to get in and out of the bathtub. The boy’s mother is a full-time caregiver for her son.  These are tough cases.  You can hear about 1,000 of them. But every time, it is like you are hearing the facts for the first time.  It is heartbreaking.

michigan settlements verdicts

Average settlements in Michigan

Below are sample verdicts and settlements in Michigan traffic accident cases in 2013. These verdicts can help you get a better understanding of the value of personal injury vehicle crash claims in Michigan. That said, take these verdicts with a grain of salt. No two cases are exactly alike. I have been doing this a long time and there is no average personal injury and, importantly, you should know that these cases were not exactly pulled at random.

  • Snyder v. Greenhouse Birth Center | 2014 | $5,000,000.  An infant is born with organ failure and severe brain damage following a breech delivery performed by a mid-wife.  He is hospitalized for thirteen days before he sadly passes away. The parents file suit against multiple parties including the midwife who told the parents that it was safe to attempt a vaginal delivery of a breech baby outside of the hospital setting.  Each party dropped out, one by one claiming bankruptcy, except for the midwife who failed to respond to the Plaintiffs’ allegations.  The Plaintiffs won a default judgment against the midwife in the amount of $5 million dollars.  The midwife, however, carried no insurance to cover the verdict.  So, sadly, $5,000,000=$0.

In Beyer v. K-Mart, the Michigan Court of Appeals was faced with an ultra classic slip and fall case. The Plaintiff sued K-Mart after slipping and falling on a puddle in its store.

Defendant moved – shocker! – for summary judgment – arguing “Hey, we didn’t know the puddle was there.” Plaintiff maintained there was a dispute of fact as to just how long the puddle was there and whether defendant was on constructive notice of this ostensibly dangerous condition. Specifically, plaintiff argued that because defendant produced no evidence of the condition of the puddle and the time of the fall, he should get an adverse inference jury instruction that the puddle had been on the floor long enough to establish constructive notice.

Plaintiff also argued in its response to the motion – and on appeal – that the condition of the puddle created a factual dispute as to whether someone else made tracks through the puddle before plaintiff. Why would this matter? Well, plaintiff maintains that if the puddle tracks were made, the puddle may have existed for a sufficient duration to attribute constructive notice of the puddle to defendant.

The facts of the case don’t provide any information as to how serious the injuries in this case were. I suspect they were pretty serious – because these lawyers were reaching pretty deep. I admire the effort. But it did not fly here.

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Sometimes, it is hard for lawyers to keep track of what claims have to be brought within an individual case before they lose their rights to assert those claims in subsequent litigation. Is this a permissive counterclaim? A compulsory counterclaim? Does this claim really arise out of the same operative facts? While there are not as many gray areas as some lawyers suggest when defending their legal malpractice claims, it can be a bit complex.

So lawyers have two choices: (1) learn the law, or (2) bring every claim that you can bring in the instant action. The lawyers in Webb v. Zurich learned this lesson the hard way. A Michigan U.S. District Court judge in this case stopped a lawsuit in its tracks, finding that the new 2012 lawsuit – which sought coverage from Zurich for environmental contamination remedial costs – is precluded by a 2010 lawsuit because Plaintiff had a duty to amend the 2010 complaint to add the new claims, but failed to do so.

When in doubt, add the claim. There are very few instances where there is a downside to this and just too many where failing to do so has the downside of those claims being lost forever.

The 6th Circuit on Monday affirmed summary judgment in a bizarre lawsuit against a Michigan medical examiner accused of improperly disposing of the plaintiff’s mother’s body.

Technically, a medical malpractice claim, this case was anything but. The decedent was a 88-year-old woman who hit her head in a nursing home and died two weeks later in the hospital. After her death, the medical examiner performed an autopsy in an effort to determine when the head injury caused the woman’s death. The doctor returned the body but kept the brain for further study. When the family learned that the brain had been kept and then disposed of, she filed a lawsuit.

The District Court certified a question to the Michigan Supreme Court on the issue of a next-of-kin’s property interest in a decedent’s organs following an autopsy. The Michigan high court shot down the plaintiff’s claim, finding that a decedent’s next of kin does not have a right under Michigan law to possess the brain in order to properly bury or cremate the same after the brain is no longer needed for forensic examination. So when the case came back, the trial court granted summary judgment.

The Michigan Supreme Court is banning all electronic communications by jurors during trial, including the nearly essential for human life “tweets” on Twitter, text messages and Google searches. This will require Michigan judges for the first time to instruct jurors not to use any handheld device, such as iPhones or Blackberrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations.

The National Law Journal reports that In Florida, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Scott Silverman declared a mistrial in a civil case after discovering a witness — a company executive — was texting his boss on the stand during a sidebar conference. “I never had this happen before,” Judge Silverman stated. “This is completely outrageous.”

I appreciate the problem. Logistically, taking away cell phones from people in 2009 will be a problem. A good number of jurors – usually a minority, but still – are angry about spending the time required to serve in the first place. This will not help matters. I am in the minority of injury lawyers who think the existing rules that already incorporate all the actual concerns we have should be underscored in the instruction to the jury, but that we should otherwise leave things as they are.

Jury Verdict Research recently released a new study looking at the average personal injury awards in Michigan: $1,089,638. As always, personal injury verdicts conflate the average; the median personal injury compensation award in Michigan is $99,506.

Interestingly, plaintiffs receive a financial recovery in 44% of personal injury lawsuits that go to trial compared to the national average of 52%. These numbers are misleading because the type of case has a huge bearing on both the average recovery and the plaintiffs’ success rate. But this data from Michigan, as well as this settlement and verdict info, are still interesting to personal injury lawyers and accident and malpractice victims in Michigan.

Michigan personal injury verdicts

Michigan Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements

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