Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Success Stories
Arthur Juenger Et Al. V. Parley Madsen, M.D. & Micro Surgery & Brain Research Institute, PC
Work Injury Leads To Medical Negligence In Treatment
- Medical malpractice
- Contested hearing to reduce workers’ compensation lien
- Workers’ compensation
$1.5 Million Settlement Of Medical Negligence Claim
$1.2 Million Workers’ Compensation Lien Reduced To $214,706
Arthur Juenger also sued the surgeon (Dr. Parley Madsen), and the doctor’s employer (MBRI), alleging medical malpractice. In particular, Juenger alleged that he was not a good candidate for surgery, and that Dr. Madsen “degloved” the dura — or protective sheathing — surrounding his spinal cord. Juenger specifically alleged that the dura was degloved by prolonged retraction during an unnecessarily long (eleven hour) surgery. He claimed that the “degloving” caused a steadily deteriorating condition to his nerve roots that progressively kills the nerves into lower body. The condition caused Juenger daily pain, left him unable to work in any capacity and on a cocktail of various medications. He also incurred $500,000 in medical bills.
On the Friday before a Monday, trial was to begin, the Juengers settled with Dr. Madsen and MBRI for $1.5 million. Mr. Juenger’s former employer, Yellow Transportation, then tried to collect $1.2 million of that award pursuant to Illinois workers’ compensation lien laws. In sum, the employer alleged that it was self-insured, and had paid all of Mr. Juenger’s $500,000 in medical bills, as well as his workers’ compensation benefits and settlement funds.
After a contested hearing, the circuit court judge reduced the lien of Yellow Transportation to just $214,706.
Davis V. St. Louis Union Station, Jones Lange LaSalle, St. Louis Parking, Et Al
Young Man Shot To Death Outside Of Union Station
Negligent Security: Wrongful Death
$1,000,000 Judgment And Additional Settlements
The plaintiff’s son was involved in a bar fight inside an establishment at Union Station. The operator of the bar deposited the two youths outside the club, without anyone watching either of their movements. While the plaintiff’s son spoke to his relatives and friends about what happened, the other man went to his car, loaded a semi-automatic hand gun, and tracked the plaintiff’s son down in the parking lot where he shot the victim eight times and left him to die on the asphalt.
Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., subpoenaed police records regarding the establishment and discovered that the police had been watching the bar for quite some time. In fact, just three months before the incident, an officer stated in his summary report that “it was just a matter of time before someone gets killed” at that bar.
Suit was filed by the victim’s mother against St. Louis Union Station, as owner of the property that was leased to the bar operator and the parking lot where the shooting occurred. The lawsuit also named the property management company (Jones Lang LaSalle), the parking lot management company (St. Louis Parking) and the bar owner and his related entities. While the claims against each defendant varied slightly, the overall thrust of each case was that each defendant owed a duty to the victim to correct dangerous defects of which it was well aware.
After motions for summary judgment were filed and fully briefed, the corporate defendants (property owner, management company and parking lot manager) all settled their claims with the plaintiff. Thereafter, plaintiff earned a one million dollar judgment against the bar owner and his related entities.
Ellie Cotton V. “Acme Petroleum” Corporation
Woman Beaten At Gas Station Sues For Failure To Protect Her From Harm
· Negligent Security
Six Figure Confidential Settlement Amount
Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., mediated and settled a large personal injury claim for Ms. Ellie Cotton, another wonderful client. Ms. Cotton was badly beaten at a local station of a multinational gasoline distributor, while standing in line and waiting to pay for her purchases. The initial investigation of the claim revealed that several similar events, including assaults and other violent criminal activity, occurred on the property for years before the incident in question. In fact, there had been at least six similar incidents in as many months on the property and the owner was well aware of these problems. Despite that knowledge, the owner took no action at all to provide security for its customers; however, it installed bulletproof glass at the cashier’s window and left specific directions to its employees that they never leave the booth to assist customers when there is trouble on site.
The attack was particularly brutal and prolonged. About twelve calls were made to 911, but only two of them came from the defendant’s employees at the station. Ms. Cotton was a mother of three, who always held two full-time jobs. She was left with head injuries and cognitive deficits that preclude her from working ever again. Sevastianos’ expert determined that over the rest of her working life, she would suffer wage losses in an amount of approximately $850,000.
Ms. Cotton’s case was settled at mediation with her express authority. The amount of the settlement is confidential, as is the name of the corporate defendant.
Janice Stiverson V. Moose Lodge, Et Al
Woman Badly Injured By Intoxicated Driver
- Negligent operation of motor vehicle – v. Anthony Hackney
- Dram shop liability – v. Moose Lodge
- Unjust enrichment – v. Tenent Healthcare d/b/a St. Louis University Hospital
- Insurance claim for underinsured motorist benefits – v. Country Cos. Ins. Co
Confidential Settlements With Tenent Healthcare, Moose Lodge & Anthony Hackney
$281,000 Settlement On UIM Claims Against Country Cos. Insurance
Stiverson was driving home with her best friend one evening when a drunk driver crossed the centerline of a main thoroughfare in Madison County, Illinois, striking the front of her vehicle. The damage was catastrophic. Janice’s best friend died that night, and Janice was badly injured. Several cases followed, including claims against the negligent driver, Janice’s insurer for underinsured motorist benefits (“UIM”) coverage, the Moose Lodge, where the negligent driver had been drinking prior to the collision and against Tenent Healthcare, which Janice alleged, had received money improperly for “medical payment benefits” from the UIM carrier that she should have received.
Matthew Holtmann V. Abbott Ambulance And Jane Doe
EMS Worker Injured When Ambulance Is Flipped On Its Nose
- Negligent operation of motor vehicles
While in training and accumulating practical skill hours that would go toward Mr. Holtmann obtaining his EMS licensure, he was riding in the back of an Abbott ambulance. The rear of that ambulance was struck by a low riding sports car, operated by an intoxicated erotic dancer who happened to be speeding. Upon impact, the ambulance left the roadway, entered the front lawn of an apartment complex in Kirkwood, where it hit a ditch and flipped up on its nose.
Mr. Holtmann sustained a fracture to his clavicle in the collision, as well as torn rotator cuff. Surgery was performed and, after multiple visits to the physical therapist, a full recovery was made.
Upon retention, Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., immediately placed Abbott on notice that the ambulance needed to be preserved in the same state it was in after the collision and that an inspection of the ambulance was required. This inspection led to the discovery of a missing accelerator pedal — a fact entirely consistent with an independent accident reconstructionist who concluded that the driver of the ambulance had mistakenly stepped on the accelerator — rather than the brake — upon impact. Armed with a theory and evidence, the law firm filed suit against Abbott and the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the ambulance. After discovery and a trial setting, settlement discussions occurred and resulted in the negligent driver who started the collision paying the maximum value of her insurance coverage, and Abbott contributing substantially more to resolve Holtmann’s claim against it.
Slavko Jurcevic Vs. Brouk-Zeigler, Inc.
Groomsman Falls Though Side Door Of Shuttle Bus
· Negligent Maintenance
$300,000 Unanimous Verdict
This case involved a six-day jury trial against the owner of a rented bus — similar to a large airport shuttle bus. The rental company bought the bus, retrofitted it, and rented it out for special occasions. On the evening in question, the owner rented the bus to a bride so that she could transport her entire wedding party around St. Louis for pictures between the wedding and reception.
Mr. Slavko Jurcevic was a groomsman in the wedding party. He stood up in the center aisle, poured a few glasses of champagne to the passengers, and raised his glass as he prepared to toast the new couple. The bus lurched as it went around a modest turn, and he lost his balance and fell against the bifold doors. At the moment of contact, the doors sprung open and deposited him on the roadway below at nearly 35 mph. He sustained mild head injuries, and underwent surgery for torn ACL in his right knee and a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He also lost wages as a result of his medical treatment and condition.
Sevastianos sued the rental company alleging it had negligently maintained the bus. Early inspection of the bus, photographs of its condition and superb expert testimony left little doubt that the allegations in the legal pleadings were accurate. Consequently, the jury unanimously agreed and returned a verdict awarding $300,000. The verdict was reduced slightly to represent Mr. Jurcevic’s client’s comparative fault — which the jury felt was appropriate since he was standing in the center aisle of the moving bus without holding on to any handrail. However, even the net amount he received was double the rental company’s offer before trial.
Nancy Klump V. James Osborn And American Family Ins. Cos.
Woman In T-Bone Collision Settles Claim Without Cost Of Experts
· Negligent Operation Of Motor Vehicle
· Vexatious Refusal To Pay Underinsured Motorist Benefits
Ms. Klump’s vehicle was stuck on the driver’s side door by the front of a vehicle attempting to cross traffic. James Osborn, the negligent driver, was an elderly gentleman who claimed Ms. Klump was traveling too fast for the conditions, and that he was justified in trying to cross traffic as he was waived on by an unidentified driver who allowed him to pass.
Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., secured the statement of the driver traveling behind Ms. Klump, who confirmed that traffic was relatively light and that her speed was under the posted limit. Our firm also secured all of Ms. Klump’s wage and work information as she was an excellent nurse at a major hospital prior to the collision, and has not been able to work since then due to injuries sustained in the crash.
Mr. Sevastianos filed suit against Mr. Osborn for negligent operation of his vehicle, and against Ms. Klump’s insurer for failure to tender $300,000 coverage upon demand submitted under applicable statute. After a year and half of litigation, Mr. Osborn’s insurer finally offered his policy limits. After another six months of litigation, Ms. Klump’s insurer finally offered $270,000 of its $300,000 contract, which was accepted because the settlement was secured without the costs of retaining and deposing expert witnesses.
Bellers V. Honda North America, Et Al.
Toddler Suffers Severe Head Injury In Rear-End Collision
· Product Liability; Defective Design Of Seat Back
· Negligent Operation Of Motor Vehicle
· Breach Of Insurance Contract/Vexatious Refusal To Pay
The father of a 2-year-old who suffered severe brain damage in an automobile accident filed a products liability suit against Honda.
Plaintiff’s father was driving East on Byrnesville Road in Jefferson County in his Honda minivan. His 2-year-old daughter was directly behind him, secured in a car seat. When a deer crossed the road, the father’s car was forced to a nearly complete stop. At that moment, it was rear-ended by a Chevrolet Suburban. Upon impact, the back of the father’s seat gave way. He slid up the seat back, thrusting the top of his skull into the forehead of his little girl. She suffered a severe blow to the head, resulting in permanent cognitive damage.
In his suit against Honda, the father claimed that his seat was defectively designed. He also sued the driver who rear-ended his vehicle for negligence, and his own automobile insurer — who denied its obligation to pay the underinsured motorist coverage available on all three of the family vehicles (i.e., it refused to allow “stacking” of those policies).
Honda denied that the design of the seat was defective, arguing that it was in excess of industry standards and governmental requirements. It said that the seat had performed as designed in the collision, and that the daughter’s injuries were caused by problems with the booster seat she was sitting in.
The driver who rear-ended the father’s van also denied liability, claiming that he was stopped in the middle of the road, which caused the collision. Similarly, the father’s insurer rejected his claim for “underinsurance” coverage, as well as the arguments of his attorney, Noel Sevastianos, that the policy obligated the carrier to pay on each of the family’s three vehicles — rather than just the vehicle the father was driving at the time.
The parties settled a week before trial. The driver who rear-ended the van paid her policy limits, and Honda contributed a confidential amount. The father’s insurer also agreed to tender its policy limits on all three insurance contracts.
Mark Sotello V. Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc.
Injured Worker Wins Award Of Permanent Total Disability
- Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Hardship Motion For Medical Treatment
$500,000 Award; Award Of Attorney Fees And Sanctions
Mr. Sotello was one of the most accomplished artisans in the “field” of artificial turf. He has supervised a crew that regularly worked on sports fields around the country, and even internationally. After injuring his back on the job, the law firm of Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., filed a claim for Missouri workers’ compensation benefits. The claim alleged that Mr. Sotello herniated a disc on his low back at L4- L5, and sustained a permanent partial disability to the body as a whole. His employer’s elected doctor performed surgery, but his symptoms did not resolve. Mark went on to endure several spine surgeries, and his claim was amended to one alleging a permanent total disability.
Once the employer’s doctors placed Mark at “MMI” (maximum medical improvement), its insurance company made the regrettable decision to terminate his medical treatment and pay. Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., filed a “hardship” motion, and claimed Mark needed additional medical care, and was owed back pay and travel costs. The law firm also asked for sanctions to be awarded for termination of benefits. The court agreed, and awarded every request made by Mark’s lawyers. After that additional care, the employer stipulated at trial that Mark was permanently and totally disabled, and an award of weekly benefits for life was ordered against the employer/insurer. Because Mark was a relatively young man on the date of his injury, and because he was a high wage earner, Mark’s award was one of the biggest Missouri permanent total awards of the year in which it was entered.
Arthur Juenger Et Al. V. Yellow Transportation
Injured Worker Earns Award Of Permanent Total Disability
- Illinois workers’ compensation award
Award Of $485,000
Arthur Juenger injured his lumbar spine (low back) while working as a truck driver for Yellow Transportation (aka, “Yellow Freight” and “Yellow Corp.”). In the course of receiving medical treatment for that work related injury, Mr. Juenger visited Dr. Parley Madsen at the Microsurgery and Brain Research Institute (“MBRI”).Within three months of the work injury, Dr. Madsen performed a two level lumbar fusion on Juenger — in an apparent attempt to ease his lower back pain and relieve pressure from the left side of his spinal cord. Juenger awoke from the operation, however, with left and right sided pain in his lumbar spine, and with pronounced left sided “foot drop”.
Juneger claimed that he was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the work injury and related medical care he received. His case was resolved with the entry of an award that lumped out his stream of weekly benefit checks with a payment in excess of $450,000, and the employer’s funding of a set-aside trust fund for his future medical care in excess of $35,000.
Metod Nekic V. Douglas Orr Plumbing, Inc.
Injured Ditch Digger Earns Permanent Total Award
· Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claim
$330,000 Awarded At Trial
Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., tried a workers’ compensation case. The client, Mr. Metod Nekic, was a 62-year-old male who worked his whole life performing heavy labor. Mr. Nekic injured his lower back while digging a ditch at work. He reported the injury to his supervisor and asked for medical treatment. His employer denied his request, and ordered him back to work, arguing that his “injury” was really a pre-existing condition for which he was not entitled to benefits under the workers’ compensation laws. As an immigrant with only an eighth grade education and broken English, Mr. Nekic feared the loss of his job, and therefore, tried to return to work several times. After several attempts, however, he simply could not perform his assigned work. With no education or transferable skills, he was left unemployed, in constant pain and in need of medical treatment.
Prior to trial, Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., filed a motion and won a court order mandating the employer/insurer to render medical care for Mr. Nekic. Because the employer continued to deny liability for the injury, the matter was tried before an administrative law judge. The court declared that Mr. Nekic was permanently and totally disabled as a result of his work-related activities, and awarded him back pay for all wages wrongfully withheld from the time of the injury to trial. In addition, the court ordered the employer to pay Mr. Nekic two-thirds of his average weekly wage, for each week, for the rest of his life.
Noel Sevastianos said that “this result was the equivalent of a home run over the deepest part of center field, and we were as pleased with the result as we were proud to have obtained justice for such a wonderful client. We were most pleased, however, with our ability to reverse and reject the employer’s attempt to take advantage of my client due to his limited formal education and broken English.”
Joe And Jane Doe V. Life Insurance Company Of North America (“LINA”)
Death From Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation Deemed Accidental
- Failure to pay life insurance claim on employer issued policy for accidental death and dismemberment
- ERISA claims
Plaintiffs were the children and named beneficiaries of two accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies issued to their father. Each policy was issued through the deceased father’s employer, and therefore, was subject to and controlled by the federal “Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974” (a.k.a. “ERISA”).The insurer on each policy was the Life Insurance Company of North America, d/b/a “Cigna Group Insurance”.
The children’s father died while engaged in an act known as “auto-erotic asphyxiation.” The insurer argued that death benefits under the policies, totaling over $380,000, were not available because, among other things, the death at issue was not “accidental” — as defined under the terms of the policy. Accordingly, the beneficiaries hired Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., to resolve their claim.
A lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that Cigna’s denial of the claim was arbitrary, capricious, not in good faith and unsupported by substantial evidence. The suit further alleged that Cigna’s failure to pay was a breach of the fiduciary duties it owed to the beneficiaries as the claims administrator, in violation of ERISA. After discovery and summary judgment motions were drafted, filed and argued, the case was settled at mediation for a confidential sum.
Dexter V. City Of O’Fallon, Et Al
Sewer Backups Leave House Uninhabitable
· Negligent failure to maintain sewer system — city of O’Fallon
· Negligent failure to disclose material fact — seller of property
Michael Kara Dexter purchased an existing home in O’Fallon, Missouri. The sellers’ disclosure revealed a backup of the sewer, but did not disclose the significant nature of the backup. More importantly, the sellers did not disclose that the house was unoccupied for several months while repairs to the home were affected after the disclosed backup, leaving the Dexter’s to believe that the prior incident was a minor event.
The sewer backed up twice shortly after the Dexters purchased the home. Each backup was significant, but after the second incident, mold began to grow on the baseboards and on and behind the drywall. Kara began to have severe headaches and other symptoms, ultimately being diagnosed with “reactive airway syndrome”. Her two children experienced similar symptoms. The home was rendered uninhabitable, and the Dexters abandoned the home, and all personal possessions that came into direct contact with the raw sewage. They were left with no home, few possessions, and badly damaged credit. The Dexters filed suit against the city of O’Fallon, Missouri, for negligent failure to maintain the sewer system. In particular, the Dexters alleged that the pace of development in St. Charles County, Missouri, rendered the rural infrastructure inadequate, that the city knew this fact, and failed to take steps to correct and/or monitor the problems. The Dexters also sued the former owners of their home for intentional and/or negligent failure to disclose known defects and relevant facts. After written discovery and depositions were taken, the parties resolved their case at mediation for a confidential sum.
Edwin Dunteman V. St. Louis University
Whistleblower Claim Leads To Large Settlement
· Qui tam claim — False Claims Act
· Whistleblower liability
$1.8 Million Settlement
St. Louis University agreed to pay the United States $1.8 million in exchange for the dismissal of the Qui tam (false claim) counts brought by Edwin Dunteman, a former doctor at the hospital run by Tenent Healthcare.
Apted-Hulling, Inc. V. L&S Properties And John Lueders
Judge Orders Eviction Of Corporate Tenant, Payment Of Money Damages, And Rescinds 25-Year Lease Agreement
· Breach of contract
· Rescission of 25-year lease agreement
· Unlawful detainer and possession of leased property
$255,339.57 Judgment; Plaintiff Granted Everything Requested Of Court
A judgment was entered in favor of the firm’s client for every penny requested, and for immediate possession of the property. The judgment ordered a 25-year lease to be rescinded and declared to be commercially impracticable.
Plaintiff Apted-Hulling Inc., owns the real estate upon which the Cheshire Inn Hotel (known as the “Lodge”) and Cheshire Inn Bar & Restaurant (known as the “Inn”) operate. Plaintiff Cheshire Inn Motor Hotel, Inc., is the business entity that actually operates the Lodge. In 1989, plaintiff leased the Inn to defendant John Lueders, who assigned it to his company, co-defendant L&S Properties, Ltd., which operates the Inn’s bar, banquet and restaurant businesses. Pursuant to the parties lease, defendants were obligated to “provide continuous room service” to Lodge guests, and to maintain the same hours of operation that were in place when the lease was signed. The lease also obligated defendants to pay all utility bills, including the sewer bill to MSD.
Plaintiffs filed a suit against defendants for breach of contract and unlawful detainer. The petition was then amended to include claims for declaratory judgment and rescission. In sum, plaintiffs alleged that defendants had breached the agreement by, among other things, failing to provide continuous room service, failing to maintain the same hours of operation and by failing to pay the MSD bill. Plaintiffs alleged that such failures caused harm to their reputation, caused them to incur lost profits and suffer other financial damages. Lastly, plaintiff asked the court to rescind the lease agreement and/or declare the lease to be commercially impractical to perform, and order the defendants to immediately vacate the property.
At trial, plaintiffs introduced evidence to demonstrate that the defendants business had changed significantly. It no longer was a restaurant doing over 2.5 million in sales as it had in 1989; instead, restaurant sales decreased to just a third of former sales, and liquor sales increased by 40 percent or more — due mostly to a late night liquor license defendants obtained in 1995. Plaintiff argued that since obtaining that license, defendants no longer made any serious attempt to provide a first class breakfast to its Lodge guests, or to provide its guests timely room service or food service. Plaintiff argued that as a result in the loss of these services over the years, and the decrease in banquet sales and service levels, that single room rentals at the Lodge decreased significantly and caused it to lose $244,236.02 in lost profits over the last two years alone. Plaintiffs also claimed that defendants’ failure to pay the MSD bills timely resulted in a lien for $11,103.55 being placed upon its real estate.
After four days of trial, the court entered a judgment awarding plaintiffs every single thing they requested: (a) a monetary judgment against defendants, jointly and severally, for $255,339.57 in lost profits and MSD liens; (b) rescission of the lease agreement; (c) a declaration that the lease is commercially impracticable to defendants; and (d) immediate possession of the Cheshire Inn.
Ladue Trails, LLC V. Ladue Restaurant & Bar Co.
· Breach of lease agreement
· Breach of commercial guarantees
$43,559 Unanimous Jury Verdict
Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., represented the plaintiff, a landlord of a shopping center in Ladue, Missouri. The client leased commercial space to a corporate tenant in St. Louis County, and had the owners of the business sign personal guarantees securing the financial obligations of the corporate tenant under the lease. The case was tried against two personal guarantors, one of which disputed the amount of the landlord’s debt, and the other of which claimed he never signed the particular guarantee. Neither defendant’s guarantee was notarized, and both original guarantees had been lost by the plaintiff.
At trial, the second defendant argued that the mark on the subject guarantee was not his. He testified that he never signed the document, never promised to secure the company’s debt and that he was only a minor, passive investor in the company with no incentive to personally secure a large corporate obligation.
The plaintiff offered differing testimony at trial through a corporate representative who testified that the personal guarantee had been signed in front of her at her office, at her request. Although she could not explain the missing original documents, she could and did specifically outline the financial losses the plaintiff incurred.
A jury returned a unanimous verdict against the two defendants awarding the landlord every cent it claimed it was owed under the subject lease.
Preston’s V Christy Parson, Et Al.
Hair Saloon Owner’s Noncompete Agreement Voided
The subject of a newspaper article, a salon owner tried to enforce a noncompete agreement signed by stylists who worked in the saloon. The owner complained that the barriers to entry in the business were so low that such an agreement was necessary for him to invest substantial sums in a stylists education and work experience. Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., worked closely with another law firm on behalf of the stylists, and fashioned an argument that the owner could not enforce the agreement because, among other things, he had breached the agreement first. In particular, the stylists could prove that their employer took deductions from their paycheck for workers’ compensation insurance, which is not a legal deduction and had underpaid them as a result.
Three Radio Personalities — One Radio Station
Three Radio Personalities Sue Over Same Employer For Contract Wages Owed
- Breach of contract claims
Confidential Settlements For All Three DJ’s In Separate Actions
The subject of another news article, a St. Louis based radio station fired one of its on-air personalities, then refused to pay him for the term of his employment contract. The DJ was referred to Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., which represents many radio and television personalities, and has a history of working with several professional athletes. The firm promptly filed suit for breach of contract against the radio station, and settlement occurred. Amazingly, the same station then fired two more employees — each of whom had the exact same “contract” as the first DJ. Each of these personalities were referred to Sevastianos & Associates, P.C., who again filed suit and proved that the employer’s “term sheet” said that it “was not a contract for employment” and was exactly that — a contract that stated (among other things) an “offer,” a “duration of employment” and an agreed upon “weekly salary.” Each case settled such that the employer/radio station paid their former DJ for the remaining term of the contract.
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$1.8 million Settlement St. Louis University agreed to pay the United States $1.8 million in…
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