This afternoon we had the honor and pleasure of receiving the verdict in our month-long SUV-vs-motorcycle case in Pierce County — $44.7 million in total damages, reduced for just 5% comparative fault!
This is an amazing verdict in many ways:
First, our client’s injuries. He was grievously injured, yet not paralyzed and not brain damaged (other than a concussion that resolved relatively quickly). There were questions early in his recovery as to whether he would walk again, but he worked so hard and tirelessly – determined to walk out of the hospital under his own power. The jury saw how hard he worked to get better, and also how much he remains permanently affected.
Second, the defendant. Although we knew Allstate was both bankrolling the defense and indemnifying the verdict, the jury didn’t know that. What the jury saw was a married housewife and mother of two small children. Sure, she made a mistake, but she was hardly a villain. Yet this did not deter the jurors from their task of putting a value on his damages.
Third, comparative fault. Although we think the world of our client and don’t believe his speed played any role in what happened, we couldn’t ignore the fact that he was riding a motorcycle. That some people might believe he was speeding just because of that. And that there were two eyewitnesses – not to the crash, but up the street moments before the crash – who claimed he was driving very fast and recklessly. The defense pounded hard on this issue. And yet the jury came back with just 5% comparative fault!
This result could not have been achieved without so many who contributed. Karen Koehler as lead counsel and fearless leader (myself as second chair). Shannon Kilpatrick as our support outside of the courtroom with her tremendous brief writing. Andrew Ackley, who was on this case back in its infancy helping to set it up for success, and also swooped back in more recently to take last-minute depositions of the defense’s late-disclosed experts, while the rest of us were deep in trial prep. Kristin Michaud and Anne Roberson as our tireless team of paralegals. The entire SKKM office supporting the team in so many ways, particularly while we were “MIA” in the thick of trial.
And last but never least – our client. He’s the kind of person who does his best in the “driver’s seat,” so to speak. The phenomenal progress he made in his recovery speaks to that. But for trial he had to let go and put his trust in us. And that trust never wavered. Ever the optimist, he never lost faith. And that faith empowered us.