- The amounts obtained on behalf of insurance company policyholders is summarized in American National County Mutual Insurance Co.’s brief in the case of Basham v. American National County Mutual Insurance Co. in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Texarkana Division, Case #12-cv-4005-SOH.
Dr. Aaron DeShaw, Esq. P.C. has individually, and with other firms, obtained more than $1 Billion in settlements and trial verdicts for clients. Focused on Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Quadriplegia, Amputation, wrongful death, and other catastrophic injury legal cases.
Hensley v. CSC, et al.
The Hensley lawsuit alleged that over 580 insurers conspired with insurance software manufacturers to intentionally and fraudulently underpay bodily injury claims to policyholders. The DeShaw law firm was one of four firms working on the case nationally, with Nix Patterson Roach of Texas, Whitten Burrage of Oklahoma and Goodson Keil of Arkansas as local counsel in Texarkana. The case took the firms many years, and involved millions of documents that were all reviewed. It is worth noting that every one of the insurers settled these cases, rather than face a jury regarding the intentional underpayments to their own policyholders.Practice Area Plaintiff
Georgia Hensley as class representativeOutcome
Over $1 Billion in payments to class members(1)
- Cazares v. Allstate – CV-2009-72-3 – $358,000,000 to $699,000,000 settlement
- Zareboki v. Hartford Insurance – $215,000,000 settlement
- Hunsucker v. American Standard Insurance Company (American Family)- $104,000,000 settlement
- Soto v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co. – $34,300,000 to $64,900,000
- Hunter v. American Central Insurance Co. (One Beacon / White Mountain) – $39,000,000 (settlement)
- Webb v. First Liberty (Liberty Mutual Insurance Company) – $15,250,000 (settlement)
- Frugia v. Allied Property & Casualty Insurance (Nationwide Insurance) – $10,000,000 (settlement)
- Atkinson v. General Casualty Company of Wisconsin – $9,600,000 (settlement)
- Parker v. Mountain Laurel (Progressive Insurance) – $8,300,000 (settlement)
- Johnson v. Clarendon America Insurance Company – $7,600,000 (settlement)
- Easley v. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company – $5,900,000 (settlement)
- Gooding v. Grange Indemnity Insurance Company (CV-2007-456-3) – Increase on all applicable claims of 13%, up to total payout of $5,473,248 (settlement)
- Simental v. California State Automobile Association – $4,800,000 (settlement)
- Sweeten v. American Insurance Company – Increase on all applicable claims of 14%, up to total payout of $4,200,000 (settlement)
- Sweeten v. American Empire Insurance (Great American Insurance) – $3,000,000 (settlement)
- Vanschuyver v. State Auto Insurance – $2,900,000 (settlement)
- Gross v. Graphic Arts Mutual Insurance, Republic Franklin Insurance and UTICA – $2,700,000 (settlement)
- White v. American Casualty Company of Reading PA (CNA) – $2,300,000
- Gibson v. The Hanover Insurance Co. – $2,200,000 (settlement)
- Hunter v. American Central Insurance Company – $1,800,000 (settlement)
- Jones v. American Hardware Mutual Insurance Company (Motorists Insurance) – $1,800,000 (settlement)
- Pizarro v. Horace Mann – $1,700,000 (settlement)
- Hogue v. Federated Mutual Insurance – $ 1,200,000 settlement (settlement)
- Soto v. AAA Mid-Atlantic (Keystone Insurance) – $1,100,000 (settlement)
- Gross v. W.R. Berkeley Corp. – $542,649 (Settlement)
- Gross v. Atlantic Lloyds Insurance Standard Company of Texas (Atlantic Mutual) – $542,604 (settlement)
- Gross v. Insurance Company of the West and Explorer Insurance Company – $472,571 (settlement)
Sikes v. Farmers Group Inc., et al. (Farmers Insurance)
In this case Aaron DeShaw served as a legal consultant, creating strategy, analyzing data, and preparing the lead lawyers for depositions in national class action against Farmers Insurance for the use of bodily injury software which systematically underpaid claims. Unable to serve as counsel due to the potential of being called as a material rebuttal witness. Policyholders were paid in excess of $150 million. Counsel were Whitten, Nelson, McGuire of Oklahoma.Practice Area Plaintiff
Helen Sikes as class representativeOutcome
Over $150 million in payments to class members
Doe v. Fishing Fleet
Maritime case in which client was injured by a freon leak in the boat’s refrigeration system, causing extensive damage to client’s heart. Client died during litigation of heart failure. Co-counsel with Friedman | Rubin.Practice Area Plaintiff
Fitzgerald v. Shelby
$1,600,000 record trial verdict on $25,000 offer in auto vs. motorcycle case resulting in the amputation of client’s right leg. Largest recorded civil trial verdict in history in Columbia County, Oregon.
Client was uninsured at the time, which prohibited the jury from considering the value of the client’s personal losses. The jury only heard evidence of the financial losses the client would experience after the loss of his leg. Client went through approximately 15 surgeries before his leg was amputated, and then has had many surgeries since then as a result of ongoing infections.
Despite losing his leg, the defense vocational expert told the jury that our client would make more money than he had earned working at OHSU before the amputation. This was the insurance company witness’ testimony, despite our client’s constant rejections for job applications, and the expert’s own resources telling him they would not employ an amputee during his market surveys. The defense witness also refused to acknowledge US Government data on decreased earnings after a severe physical disability like an amputation.
Insurance company offer before trial was $25,000.Practice Area Plaintiff
S. FitzgeraldInsurance Company Offer
$1,600,000 Jury Verdict (Economic Damages Only – In excess of Policy Limit*)
Edlin v. Doe et. al.
Client sustained a moderate brain injury as well as lacerations of the kidney and liver in a side-impact collision. The story of this crash was the subject of two articles in The Oregonian, including front page coverage of the trial verdict. The facts were complex – our client was the passenger in a car driven by her brother. Her brother had moved into a middle refuge lane, intending to turn left across traffic. There were two oncoming lanes. The driver in the first lane (who drove a large pickup) and who was never identified (“John Doe”) waived the brother across traffic. Unfortunately, John Doe waived him to cross traffic when a driver in a Ford F-250 was approaching in the lane closest to the curb. Our client’s brother could not see the approaching F-250 because his view was blocked by the stopped pickup that was telling him to turn. As a result, our client’s brother believed he was clear when John Doe waived him across traffic. Instead, the Ford F-250 struck our client’s vehicle at the passenger door where she was sitting. The steel bumper intruded into the window striking our client in the head, causing an internal bleed in her brain. She lost consciousness, and her brother was concerned she was dead at the scene.
State Farm Insurance insured all three vehicles. The liability of her brother, due to Oregon laws, limited her recovery against him under their parent's State Farm insurance policy to $25,000. The claim against John Doe was covered under our client’s State Farm Uninsured Motorist coverage. State Farm also insured the F-250 driver. The defense was aimed at minimizing the liability of all drivers, and State Farm paid for the defense lawyers for all of the parties.
While our client looked completely normal several years later during the trial, she had serious injuries that are permanent and continue to impact her. Her CT and advanced MRI study showed holes in her brain from the bleeding. Despite this, State Farm’s neurologist claimed that the holes in her brain would have no effect on her life. His testimony was completely contrary to reality, as she was not able to finish college on her sports scholarship, and was never able to work normally again. She was only 18 at the time of the injury and would become severely fatigued even after a few hours of work.
The client is a wonderful person and 7 of the 12 jurors requested to be friends with her on Facebook after the trial. Several called her an inspiration for their own lives. She had started religious support groups for girls before the crash and attempted to continue doing some work for the group after her injury. Despite her injuries she also attempted to go back and do work for the homeless. She helped her parents who had adopted several foster children.
In the end, the jury divided liability for the collision as 55% liability attributed to our client’s brother, 35% to John Doe who waived them through, and 10% to the F-250 driver who the evidence suggested had been speeding at the time of the crash. The jury returned a verdict of $1,125,000, all for the past and future medical treatment, and future wage loss. For reasons that remain unclear, the jury provided $0 compensation for the client's pain, change in quality of life, humiliation and mental suffering. While providing economic damages with no “non-economic damages” violated Oregon law, our client asked that we not request the jury to go back given that it could result in an increased chance the defendants would appeal. By that time they had harassed her for years, taken her diary, obtained videos of her lecturing, gotten into her Facebook account via her brother’s account, and required her to disclose every personal photo she had taken for years. She was through with her life being intruded upon simply in order to get compensated for her serious personal loss. We understand from one juror that the jury decided not to provide any money for her personal loss because they believed her church would pay to take care of her (which was both untrue, and a violation of the court’s rules not to consider outside sources to pay for the client’s needs.)
At the time of the verdict, it was the 4th largest auto accident verdict in the past 20 years, with two of the other three higher verdicts involving the death of the plaintiff. Despite this, it was very difficult to accept that the jury didn’t believe her personal losses deserved any compensation.
The insurance company offer prior to trial was $37,500 during a judicial settlement conference. Insurance coverage for both her brother and John Doe was limited by their State Farm policy, and as a result, of the $1,125,000 verdict, the client only received a small amount.Practice Area Plaintiff
EdlinInsurance Company Offer
$1,125,000.00 Jury Verdict (Excess of Policy Limit*)
Cozzocrea v. Ready
Our client was a 15-year-old boy riding his bike to school in a bike lane, when an SUV turned directly in front of him, cutting off the bike lane. The driver had been stopped in heavy traffic and our client was directly in the bicycle lane coming up from behind with no obstruction to the driver’s view. There was a dispute between the driver and our client about whether the driver’s right turn signal was on. The client was picked up by his mother and denied EMT transport, but later saw EMTs at his home.
Client spent the first few weeks in bed crying with severe pain, and feeling really poorly. He had significant headaches, problems thinking and neck pain. Client then experienced a significant illness that he attributed to systemic health consequences of the collision. When he returned to school he experienced cognitive problems. Doctors diagnosed a traumatic brain injury and spinal injuries. Shortly after this, he was hit in the head while in PE because the school would not excuse him – aggravating the brain injury from the bike crash. He was put into a special education program for the remainder of high school and has experienced social isolation as a result of many doctors visits and being unable to complete school work normally. Doctors additionally suspected and later diagnosed a C1 instability caused by damage to the cervical ligaments. This led to him stopping all physical activities. A later high resolution MRI of the cervical spine found the cervical ligaments to not be ruptured, but the client continued to have neck pain. As a result, approximately two years post injury he returned to bicycling.
A high resolution 3T MRI of the brain demonstrated small amounts of traumatic damage in the brain. Approximately two years post injury a nationally recognized neuropsychologist performed testing demonstrating ongoing and permanent cognitive damage. Given the positive brain imaging, the client’s neuropsychologist diagnosed him with a complicated mild traumatic brain injury that was permanent. The client also suffered from depression as a result of the significant changes in his quality of life.
The offer from the insurer prior to litigation was $0, and remained $0 throughout the litigation.
Then in 2016, the client crashed his own bike prior to litigation being filed, but after he had already been pronounced to have permanent brain damage from the bicycle crash three years earlier.
The neuropsychologist hired by the insurer near the end of litigation, refuted the defense case finding that the SUV-bicycle crash in 2013 had caused a complicated mild traumatic brain injury resulting in permanent brain damage. Plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert confirmed that client would not be able to pass college classes, significantly impacting his future earning capacity. Plaintiff’s neuropsychologist, neurologist, vocational rehabilitation expert, and the defense neuropsychologist all agreed that the client had sustained a permanent mild traumatic brain injury.
Our office had provided the insurer the ability to settle for the limits of the defendant’s insurance policy several years before, and before litigation was filed. In response, the insurer offered $0 and forced the child into litigation in order to obtain any compensation for his significant loss.
The insurer paid $1,050,000 at mediation a few weeks prior to trial. The case was resolved after nearly five years.Practice Area Plaintiff
J. CozzocreaInsurance Company Offer
$1,050,000.00 Pre-trial Mediation
Confidential v. Ordonez & Rideshare
Client was passenger in a rideshare vehicle that was hit by another driver who had turned the wrong direction on Naito Parkway.
Client was unconscious and unresponsive at the scene. She was transported to the ICU at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU).
As a result of this crash the client sustained head injury with a 8cm forehead laceration, intracranial bleeding (brain bleed), a “profound” 5-part fracture of the C1 vertebra (called a Jefferson Fracture), a fracture of the odontoid process of the C2 vertebra, a C7 compression fracture, bilateral vertebral artery injuries, and initial paralysis of all four arms and legs (quadriplegia.) In the following days this improved to a partial paralysis of her arms and legs, and after surgery on her neck, residual symptoms in only one arm.
We were hired by California counsel for the client, due to Dr. DeShaw's national reputation as traumatic brain injury lawyer. We took over primary handling of the case, including communication with multiple insurers, and writing the demand letters.
We did extensive work on capturing images for the insurance demand letter within the advanced imaging (CT and MRI) DICOM and x-ray files from the hospital to demonstrate the actual injuries to the insurers. These advanced image files demonstrated the seriousness of the multiple fractures, and the end result of the surgeries. We then obtained medical illustrations from a leading medical-legal illustration company, of the injuries to help the insurer understand the severity and permanency of the injuries that the jury would see if the case was not settled.
This case settled with all insurers paying policy limits.Practice Area Plaintiff
$1,030,000.00 Settlement (Policy Limits)
Bell v. Trucking Company
Client was putting a tarp on a semi truck loaded with steel rollers that were improperly secured. The wind blew and the steel rollers came off and smashed him in the head. He was immediately knocked unconscious and sustained a skull fracture and had bleeding in his brain. Co-counsel: Langdon & Emison of MissouriPractice Area Plaintiff
$1,000,000.00 (policy limit settlement*)
Doe v. National Chain Store
A few days before Christmas, our client, who was a wife and mother of two, was at a store getting crafts for her family’s holiday. A heavily weighted shelf at the retailer fell on her head causing a mild traumatic brain injury, and a torn cervical spine ligament that supported her skull on her neck. The result was significant vision and balance disturbances that left her largely housebound.
Our office took over this case approximately eight years into the case, after the case had been put on a lengthy abatement while the client sought ways to improve. Our office was suggested by several of the treating doctors when the case became too medically complex for the prior lawyer. By the time we took over the case, there were over 50 doctors, and others were experiencing difficulty understanding the medical reasons why the client experienced the type of symptoms she experienced. Some of her own treating doctors believed her problems were the result of a psychological problem rather than a physical injury. Some of the client’s treating doctors became key witnesses for the defense.
Once our office was hired, we recognized that some of the client’s symptoms were likely the result of an instability of the C1 vertebra due to the tearing of one of the ligaments that secured her skull to her neck. Our research into this injury was consistent with the client’s symptoms. An MRI and a motion x-ray study confirmed the C1 instability and the tearing of one of her upper cervical ligaments. A detailed neuropsychological study confirmed brain based cognitive deficits. Detailed eye and inner ear examinations confirmed her ongoing problems with her visual and balance systems.
Depositions of the defense experts was undertaken as this was a Washington case, demonstrating that they did not have a firm basis for their opinions that the client was faking or exaggerating her symptoms.
A settlement conference was undertaken in an attempt to settle the case short of trial. The insurer’s top offer was $30,000 for the client’s permanent and disabling injuries. Not only had the client already lost eight years of her life, but she was young and would have cognitive problems, vision problems and chronic pain the rest of her life.
Aaron DeShaw and Ken Friedman of Friedman | Rubin of Seattle (as co-counsel) undertook three weeks of trial. On the last day of a three-week trial, defendants settled the case for $800,000 after the cross-examination of the defense neuropsychologist.Practice Area Plaintiff
ConfidentialInsurance Company Offer
$800,000.00 settlement during trial
Confidential v. Melu, Rideshare & State Farm Insurance
Client was a passenger in a rideshare vehicle when it was hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver was traveling at high speed and ran a red light, hitting client's rideshare vehicle. Drunk driver had been drinking at home so no dram shop cases were possible. Driver was arrested and charged with DUI in violation of ORS 813.010.
Client's vehicle was t-boned by drunk driver. The crashed caused intrusion into the driver's side of the rideshare vehicle at the location where client was sitting and struck client within the vehicle. Client was unconscious and unresponsive for approximately 10 minutes. (A person who is found unconscious and unresponsive has a Glasgow Coma Score of 3, and is defined as having a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury). She was transported to the ICU at Legacy Emanuel Trauma Center.
Client was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with increased symptoms of chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and acute lower extremity pain. Imaging revealed a large left diaphragm rupture with herniation of the stomach and spleen up into the chest with tracheal deviation and oxygen desaturation, prompting emergency surgery.
Injuries included a Ruptured Diaphragm, Splenic Laceration, Grade II Liver Laceration, Right Pulmonary Contusion, Pneumothorax, Hemothorax requiring emergent operative exploration and management; Closed Fracture of the left Femoral Head/Hip; Multiple Pelvis Fractures with Right Pelvic Hematoma, Displaced Fracture of the Sacrum, and Closed Fracture of the Superior Pubic Rami requiring surgical intervention, a fracture of the femoral neck requiring an Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF) of the femur, followed by ORIF with left posterior percutaneous sacral screw fixation of the pelvis. She also sustained multiple rib fractures.
We did extensive work on capturing images within the advanced imaging (CT and MRI) DICOM and x-ray files from the hospital to demonstrate the actual injuries to the insurers. These illustrated both the seriousness of the multiple fractures, the end result of the surgeries (showing the inserted metal plates and screws). We then hired a leading medical-legal illustration and animation company to provide custom illustration work on the case. These illustrations showed the original injuries, the surgical procedures and the resulting metal implants in the client. This helped the insurer understand the severity and permanency of the injuries.
Unfortunately, there was not nearly enough insurance for this client's loss (which had to be further divided with one other passenger injured at the same time). We obtained all available insurance from the drunk driver's insurance policy as well as two underinsured motorist insurance policies.Practice Area Plaintiff
$716,660.00 Settlement (Multiple Policy Limits including two Underinsured Motorist Policy Limits)
Lutes v. Rotchy
A Clark County Washington jury returned a verdict of $700,000 against the owner of a dump truck that pulled out in front of a woman driving an automobile. While her overt physical injuries, cervical strain and contusions, largely resolved with time, she continued to experience chronic headache, post-traumatic stress, depression and personality changes. It was eventually determined that she had suffered a closed-head, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Testimony of family members and co-workers regarding changes in her personality and abilities was important in obtaining this substantial verdict.
The initial insurance company offer to settle this case was $7,000, 1/100th of the verdict. The case was tried by co-counsel Rick Friedman of Friedman | Rubin. During the trial, the defense claimed that our client was malingering (lying about her injuries.) The jury clearly did not agree. The defendant appealed the jury verdict and the Washington Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.
This case became the basis for the second section of Rick Friedman’s book Polarizing the Case, which has gone on to help thousands of other lawyers handle cases where insurance companies, and their defense lawyers claim that injured people are lying or exaggerating their injuries.Practice Area Plaintiff
LutesInsurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
$700,000.00 Jury Verdict
Abrams v. Office Master
The client sustained a serious spinal injury as a result of a defectively designed chair collapsing. Co-counsel James Parziale.Practice Area Plaintiff
Price v. DJO, LLC
The client sustained erosion of the shoulder joint as a result of a defective pain pump in his shoulder. With co-counsel Beasley Allen.Practice Area Plaintiff
Kletzer v. Heiberg Garbage
61 year old OHSU employee walking to work as a pedestrian, was run over by a garbage truck causing head laceration, facial fractures, facial scarring, and bilateral complex tibia fractures, including rod insertion into one leg and permanent lower leg edema. Client returned to work within months of the collision, and despite the severity of injuries, did not expect future treatment related to the injuries beyond her pre-existing treatment, or any diminished earning capacity. Total past and future economic damages were $118,000. The remainder of the settlement was for non-economic damages.Practice Area Plaintiff
The Estate of Mitchell v. The Unit Owners of Oswego Summit
Our firm represented the estate of an 83-year-old woman who was a hard working matriarch of a large family including six children and multiple grandchildren and great grandchildren with whom she played an active role. Before this incident, she was in excellent health, continued to work in real estate, hiked, gardened and spent a great deal of time with her family and helping disadvantaged members of the community. She had been a pioneer in getting girl’s high school basketball started in Oregon, had graduated in three years from high school and graduated from Willamette University.
On the evening of the event, she visited members of her LDS ward at the Oswego Summit residential community in Lake Oswego to give them advice about selling their condo, after longstanding and widespread construction defects at Oswego Summit resulted in a large repair assessment to the unit owners. She left the owners condo unit and walked out to get them a business card in her car. As she walked out her pathway was lit by a bright commercial parking lot light. While she was returning, the scene going back to the condo was unlit and too dark to see the steps of the walkway. As a result, she fell and struck her head on a raised concrete sidewall, sustaining a severe brain injury and resulted in her death at the scene. The State of Oregon Medical Examiner and police reported that the area of her death at Oswego Summit was very dark (a building code violation.) An investigation by our office also uncovered that the external lights at Oswego Summit have been wired incorrectly since the facility was built in the 1970s, leaving Oswego Summit unable to properly control the external lighting at the facility. Further investigation by our office, and retained building code experts revealed that the walkway where she died did not meet commercial building code. After our office disclosing these building code violations, American Family Insurance, the insurer for Oswego Summit, offered the family $0 for the death of this wonderful woman. Despite the family not wanting to to file litigation, they also wanted Oswego Summit to make changes to improve the safety of the facility to prevent the injury or death to other people. During depositions of the former property manager of Oswego Summit is was noted that when our client died the property manager never even left their condo despite seeing the police and fire department lights a short distance from their condo. Despite the death, Oswego Summit did no investigation, made no changes to the walkway, and when changing its external lights, failed to bring them up to code. Oswego Summit refused to provide background documents, but alleged throughout trial that there were no prior reports of injuries on this stairway, which was not surprising as there was also no report on this client’s death.
The family was forced to go through trial due to insufficient offers from American Family Insurance. Evidence of the widespread construction defects at Oswego Summit was excluded from the trial. Evidence was limited only to the defects in the stairway where the death occurred, depriving the jury of evidence that these changes had not been made because of the widespread defects throughout the property that Oswego Summit had failed to correct in the 30 years before the death.
During trial two police officers who were on the scene that night noted that they had been to Oswego Summit in the exact same stairway multiple times before the client’s death (due to domestic violence occurring in the same building) and that on each time they had been to the facility in the months before, the stairway had been too dark, just as it was on the night of the death.
The jury verdict was for $550,000. Despite multiple witnesses discussing her excellent stability on her feet and her great eyesight, the jury found the decedent 47% at fault, thereby reducing the final payment to the estate.Practice Area Plaintiff
The Estate of MitchellInsurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
$550,000.00 jury verdict (reduced by comparative negligence to $291,000)
Confidential v. National Pizza Franchise
Our firm was hired as trial counsel for this case, which had already been in litigation for several months before we were hired. Prior to our involvement the client had been offered $0 for her claim. We took over most aspects of the case including writing a new demand letter, several motions and motion responses, preparing for trial, and the mediation brief. Co-counsel remained involved in the deposition and mediation.
The client was involved in a side impact motor vehicle crash in which she sustained a mild traumatic brain injury resulting in cognitive deficits, behavioral changes, visual symptoms, and severe fatigue. This led to a decreased quality of life, and the end of a career where she had just received a promotion a few days before her crash.
Defense counsel filed a motion to have the judge dismiss the national pizza franchise as it was not involved in the crash. Our office filed an 18 page brief on agency law, tying control of the pizza franchisee defendant to the control of the national pizza franchor defendant - leaving the national chain susceptible to direct liability for the crash.
The defense lawyers' position was that the client was either falsely claiming or inflating her symptoms. She hired well known defense neuropsychologist Laurence Binder, Ph.D. to defend the case. The defense's position was also that the crash could not have hurt our client because it was a "low speed" impact. In response, our office hired a biomechanist who determined that due to the fact that our client's vehicle spun approximately 180 degrees when hit by the pizza delivery vehicle, the pizza driver had run a stop sign on the side street and T-boned our client at approximately 28 miles per hour - not a low speed impact.
Our demand letter to the Pizza company's insurer was 22 pages long - addressing the extensive damage to our client, images from the client's brain imaging (MRI), medical illustrations of the injuries, medical record quotes, neuropsychological test analysis for both the examining neuropsychologist and the defense neuropsychologist, and medical research citations supporting the case. The demand letter request was pending at the time of mediation.
Due to a few negative factors potentially impacting the trial outcome, this case was settled at mediation for $500,000. During the mediation, the mediator (a well respected lawyer in Oregon) told the client that despite his expertise in the field of brain injury cases, he had learned a great deal from our 30 page mediation submission on her case. He further told the client that the $500,000 settlement was the result of her hiring a lawyer with substantial expertise in traumatic brain injury cases.
Defense experts: Laurence Binder, Ph.D.
Defense Counsel: Hilary BoydPractice Area Plaintiff
ConfidentialInsurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
$0 (prior to our involvement)Outcome
$500,000 Mediation Settlement
Nowack v. Robinson
Clear traumatic heart damage caused to a woman with no pre-existing heart problems as a result of motor vehicle collision in which the airbag did not deflate and she hit the steering wheel. Diagnosed with heart muscle damage and sternum fracture with elevated cardiac lab results on the date of the collision after transport by ambulance. Client had two heart surgeries as a result of this damage. Mild traumatic brain injury caused change in cognition to a person who had previously done her job without a problem for 30 years. In response to our request for settlement, the insurer offered $0 on this case.
During the litigation, the defendant ordered a records review and then a live insurance medical examination “IME” by a cardiologist. Despite the cardiologist telling the client that he didn’t understand why the insurer was contesting the case, the report generated by the IME doctor said that the client wasn’t injured in the crash and that the heart damage was caused by blood pressure that had been elevated before the crash.
The amount of defendant’s insurance policy limit ($250,000) was requested. Defendant’s insurer failed to accept the offer, and made no counteroffer. In a mediation, defendant told plaintiff counsel to seek reduction of plaintiff’s medical bills and again made no offer. Plaintiff counsel DeShaw told the client to leave the mediation with him and that they were going to trial, since the insurer’s bad faith denial of the claim exposed the defendant to an excess verdict for an amount above his insurance policy.
Dr. DeShaw used the original imaging DICOM files on the client and created 3D images from the files using a radiologist program. These images demonstrated that the area of the heart damaged was directly behind the area of the sternum fractured in the crash. These images were relayed to the defense, demonstrating that there would be no credible way to suggest that the heart damage wasn’t caused by the sternum fracture and the crash.
Shortly after this, approximately two weeks before trial, the insurer called our office and agreed to settle the claim for $500,000, twice the amount of the defendant’s insurance policy limit.Practice Area Plaintiff
R. NowackInsurance Company Offer
$500,000.00 pre-trial mediation (double the insurance policy limits*)
Olsen v. GEICO
Underinsured Motorist case. Client sustained a mild traumatic brain injury with permanent consequences resulting in cognitive, behavioral, visual and vestibular problems leading to working memory problems, and ongoing balance disturbances. Client had a few episodes of pre-existing dizziness and a few mild cognitive complaints in the years before the crash. All testing pre-crash was negative. Client diagnosed with concussion, mild traumatic brain injury, Endolymph Hydrops, as well as spinal injuries post-crash. Notably, the neuropsychological evaluation was largely normal post-crash. Client's neurologist determined with further testing that the client had damage in her dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, resulting in decreased performance with auditory and visual stimulus - not normally experienced during neuropsych testing.
The at-fault driver settled for their full policy limit amount of $100,000.
GEICO's offer to their own policyholder was $0 and never increased prior to arbitration. Despite paying all of client's PIP without disputing the charges, they argued in arbitration that very little of her treatment was reasonable and necessary.
A panel arbitration decision was $488,638.05 - ($38,638.05 in past medical costs, $50,000 in past wage loss, and $400,000 in non-economic damages.)
Defendant: GEICO Insurance Company
Defense experts: Donna Wicher, Ph.D., Paul Williams M.D., Harold Kim, M.D.
Defense Counsel: Glenn BargerPractice Area Plaintiff
J. OlsenInsurance Company Offer
$0.00Insurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
$488,638.05 (*In excess of the client's insurance policy limit.)
Carlson v. Safeco Insurance
Physician sustained permanent cognitive damage from a mild traumatic brain injury, disabling her from practice. Insurance policy limit was $500,000 and client requested settlement to avoid expert costs for arbitration.Practice Area Plaintiff
$463,000.00 Mediation settlement
Dr. C v. GEICO
Client was local area physician of 40+ years, who had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury in a crash with an underinsured motorist in 2012. The traumatic brain injury was deemed “mild” despite significant personal impact, because under the medical definitions for traumatic brain injury he did not meet the >30 minute loss of consciousness criteria for moderate traumatic brain injury despite a very hard head strike inside the car.
In the period following the collision, the doctor continued to have cognitive and behavioral changes, resulting in him having to close a health food company he had started (but which was not yet profitable), and doubling the hours he worked in his clinical practice to accommodate the problems from his injury.
Medical bills in the case were just under $60,000.
Despite the client’s car being thrown forward 60 feet, a photograph clearly showing a large bruise on the doctor’s forehead, positive SPECT scans, positive CT scan and positive MRI scan, both insurance doctors claimed that there was minimal injury to the doctor, that he should have been fully healed within approximately 12 weeks, and that he had a psychological condition that would explain what he falsely believed were ongoing symptoms related to the brain injury.
The highest settlement offer from GEICO on this case was $39,700. Case resolved by decision of a three panel, two day arbitration in October 2016.Practice Area Plaintiff
Dr. CInsurance Company Offer
$420,281.00 arbitration decision (in excess of policy limits*)
Osborne v. Thomas Wiser Engineering
Plaintiff sustained severe injuries, including a mild traumatic brain injury, neurological injuries and deforming orthopedic injuries. She has been permanently disabled. Due to the need for money to survive while she was unable to work, she settled the case.Practice Area Plaintiff
Silva v. Communications Supply Corp.
Client sustained a traumatic inner ear injury called a dehiscence of her inner ear (where the space between the cranium and the superior semicircular canal is fractured) resulting in an Encephalocele, and a cerebrospinal fluid (“CSF”) leak out of her nose. Intracranial surgery was required to repair the inner ear and cranial fracture. The client had a significant symptomatic recovery after her surgery.Practice Area Plaintiff
Garcia v. Stonington Insurance & QBE
Client started a Spanish immersion school in Oregon which has been very successful. She was hit by an uninsured driver. She had a mild traumatic brain injury and was no longer able to run her school correctly and had to hire two people to replace her. She had memory problems, difficulty speaking normally, and changes in her ability to lead her business. She had corporate insurance on her auto with Stonington Insurance / QBE through her school.
She was forced to hire a lawyer because QBE denied her PIP coverage. We attempted to settle the case, laying out all of the losses she had sustained with medical records confirming her losses. Instead of making a reasonable offer to their own policyholder, she was given a $5,000 offer by her own insurer for injuries that had substantially impacted her personal and professional life. The insurer then refused to agree to binding arbitration under the Uninsured Motorist contract, and forced her to file a lawsuit against her insurance company.
After the claim was in litigation the insurer then did a psychological examination on her, in which the insurance doctor claimed she was exaggerating her symptoms and that she had a personality disorder. Due to our substantial experience in this field, we broke down the findings of the personality testing (MMPI) and made the insurance doctor apply the correct demographic information for our client within the MMPI scoring program. Three separate times this frequent insurance doctor mis-applied the demographic data trying to mislead us (and the attorney who hired her) about whether the test results were normal. When she finally applied the client’s correct information, the MMPI-2RF computerized program showed that our client was in fact normal on her personality testing. After recognizing that we knew the testing results were being reported incorrectly, the insurer offered $400,000 before the client’s deposition.
The settlement offer on this case went from $5,000 to $400,000 because our expertise demonstrated that the insurance doctor was lying about the client being injured.Practice Area Plaintiff
A. GarciaInsurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
Confidential v. Malu, Rideshare & State Farm Insurance
Male client was a passenger in a rideshare vehicle when it was hit by a drunk driver. Drunk driver was drinking at home rather than at a bar, so no dram shop cases were possible. Driver was arrested and charged with DUI in violation of ORS 813.010.
Client's vehicle was t-boned by drunk driver. The crashed caused intrusion into the driver's side of the rideshare vehicle. Client was found unconscious and unresponsive by EMTs from American Medical Response upon their arrival. (A person who is found unconscious and unresponsive has a Glasgow Coma Score of 3, and is defined as having a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury). He was transported to Legacy Emanuel Trauma Center.
He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit “based on life threatening injuries” including traumatic brain injury with subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain). A CT performed in the ER showed that the client had sustained bilateral fractures of the skull base, left temporal lobe, petrus bone and the sphenoid process; a burst fracture of the T1-2 transverse process, comminuted fracture of the left clavicle requiring ORIF, and fractures of the left #2 and #6 ribs causing pulmonary contusions. The client, who was previously a software engineer, had ongoing cognitive problems, but returned to work shortly after he was released from the hospital.
We did extensive work on capturing images within the advanced imaging (CT and MRI) DICOM files from the hospital, and obtained medical illustration to explain his injuries to the insurance adjustors involved in this case.
Unfortunately, there was not nearly enough insurance for this client's loss, which had to be further divided with another passenger more seriously injured at the same time. To his credit, this client reduced the amount of money he sought so that it was given to his fellow passenger who had substantially higher bills and much more extensive injuries. We obtained all available insurance from the drunk driver as well as two underinsured motorist insurance policies.Practice Area Plaintiff
$395,840 (Multiple Policy Limits including two Underinsured Motorist Policies)
Sortors v. Trinity Contracting et al.
Plaintiff sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, trigeminal nerve injury and hearing loss. Plaintiff hit by a Ford F-350 carrying a fully loaded tool trailer, which struck the client from the side. Liberty Mutual Insurance’s pre-litigation offer was $35,000. Liberty Mutual Insurance made no other offers until approximately two week before trial. A series of offers were rejected as being too low. Insurer finally offered $395,000 two days prior to trial, which was accepted by the client. Jurisdiction in a conservative county resulted in acceptance of the offer.Practice Area Plaintiff
M. SortorsInsurance Company Offer
Stephens v. Halsey Automotive, Inc.
Client sustained mild traumatic brain injury in motor vehicle crash in 2005. The brain injury was missed by client’s neuropsychologist, and then that report was relied upon by her other doctors, all denying she had sustained a brain injury. She continued to have cognitive and balance problems, which are permanent. One year later, believing she had no brain injury due to her multiple doctors denying it, she got on a moped, lost balance and went into oncoming traffic, causing fractures to both arms, fractured ribs, and other injuries.
Client’s first attorney withdrew two weeks before trial after client refused $50,000 offer from Farmers Insurance. Plaintiff then hired lawyer Joshua Shulman who referred the case to Dr. DeShaw, who tried the case. After DeShaw took over the case, the offer from Farmers first went down to $45,000, but then went up to $200,000 one week before trial. The jury verdict after a two week trial was $367,000, all for the injuries from the first collision in 2005, and did not find the second collision in 2006 to be the responsibility of defendant Halsey Automotive Inc.Practice Area Plaintiff
D. StephensInsurance Company Offer
$367,000.00 Trial Verdict
Holland v. Oregon Mutual
Clear mild traumatic brain injury to medical assistant in hit and run parking lot collision, where uninsured motorist had a suspended license. Uninsured driver fled the scene but was caught by police and found to be uninsured. Mild traumatic brain injury caused change in cognition to a person with superior pre-accident IQ, and which changed the quality of her life. Client struggled with clinical billing work, at home activities, and in volunteer activities after the mild traumatic brain injury. The amount of client’s policy limit ($100,000) was requested a year before arbitration proceeding, and no offer was made. Oregon Mutual’s pre-arbitration offer was $0.00 until one week before arbitration, when $15,000 was offered.Practice Area Plaintiff
T. HollandInsurance Company Offer
$320,000.00 arbitration decision (in excess of insurance policy limits*)
Kutsev v. Farmers Insurance
Business owner sustained a disabling low back injury. Client had previously been disabled from logging in a workers compensation injury approximately 10 years before, but had built a very profitable business after that, which had been damaged from the injuries sustained in this collision. With Jan Baisch as co-counsel.Practice Area Plaintiff
$308,000 arbitration decision
Shunk v. Shunk
Policy Limit settlement of homeowners claim, for client who sustained a severe brain injury leading to a multiple week coma, and permanent brain damage. Client was transported from Oregon to Craig Hospital (which specializes in brain injury and spinal cord injury care) in Colorado. Client and guardian, chose not to litigate against homeowner as it was a relative of the client.
The client was a member of the US Coast Guard at the time of this off duty injury. Our office navigated getting the client the best medical care possible through his military insurance coverage. We also navigated getting the military to waive its right to reimbursement so that the client could have some funds to care for himself long term, once he was discharged from the Coast Guard. Our work generated positive recognition from the judge overseeing the conservatorship for the client for our quality of legal work, as he would have otherwise received no compensation for his injuries.Practice Area Plaintiff
$305,000.00 settlement (policy limit*)
Clevenger v. Smith
One of Dr. DeShaw’s first legal cases.
Plaintiff was hit by an unlit large tractor disc plow being pulled down the road in the dark, and which was 1/2 way across his lane. The impact cut plaintiff’s Volvo in half, and cut through his arm (which was successfully operated on). Defendant farmer was uninsured, stating in public that he had so much money he didn’t need to be insured. Settlement included $100,000 from a negligent lead vehicle that was approximately 2 miles ahead of the tractor, $50,000 of Uninsured Motorist coverage (from our client’s insurance), and $150,000 in personal assets from the negligent tractor operator.Practice Area Plaintiff
Chabala v. Safeco Insurance (A division of Liberty Mutual Insurance)
Underinsured Motorist arbitration decision, for the traumatic brain injury to a real estate broker, and land developer. Pre-arbitration offer was $5,000.Practice Area Plaintiff
D. ChabalaInsurance Company Pre-litigation Offer
$276,000 Arbitration Decision (In excess of the $50,000 policy limit*)
Dr. S v. Safeco Insurance
Physician sustained permanent cognitive damage and behavioral changes from a mild traumatic brain injury, making practice difficult and leading to decreased earnings. Client and spouse requested settlement for a lesser amount than our office advised, rather than continue with the stress of litigation with the doctor’s insurer.Practice Area Plaintiff
Estate of Hawks v. Farmers Insurance & Lachman
Mr. Hawks was injured in a moderate severity car crash. Due to significant pre-accident health conditions and blood thinner use, the impact caused a slow bleed in his brain that led to his death. Due to not seeking medical treatment for three days post injury, the brain damage was so serious by the time he reported to the ER, that he was inoperable and went into a coma shortly after arriving at the hospital. Despite an initial intention to fight the claim due to Mr. Hawk’s failure to seek appropriate treatment, the at fault driver’s insurer, through her defense lawyer, offered her policy limit of $50,000. Mr. Hawk’s own insurance through Farmers Insurance, agreed to pay the remaining $200,000 policy limit for his death.Practice Area Plaintiff
$250,000 settlement (policy limits*)
Essin v. State Farmer Insurance
Mr. Essin is a wonderful man from Eugene who was injured by a distracted younger driver. He sustained a mild traumatic brain injury that changed his life, that of his wife, and family, as well as that of his community. Highly involved in his children’s schools, community sports, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, church, and much more, he also ran a business with his wife in the Eugene Oregon area. All of this was changed in this crash that resulted in cognitive and behavioral changes, significant cognitive fatigue, and more. The at-fault driver settled for the full amount of their insurance policy – $100,000. State Farm offered $0, and forced the family into arbitration to recover additional compensation for his losses. Shortly before the arbitration was to take place in October 2016, State Farm offered the full amount of the client’s auto policy limit of $150,000 – bringing the client’s total recovery to the maximum available insurance – $250,000.Practice Area Plaintiff
$250,000 pre-arbitration settlement (policy limits*)
Schultz v. State Farm Insurance
Underinsured Motorist arbitration decision – client sustained a mild brain injury, with an aggravation of a pre-existing low back condition that had existed since childhood.
Pre-arbitration offer was $0.Practice Area Plaintiff
SchultzInsurance Company Offer
$241,500 Arbitration Decision
Swaim v. Farmers Insurance
Underinsured Motorist arbitration decision, for two collisions leading to two shoulder surgeries, a TMJ surgery and chronic pain. Despite minimal vehicle damage, Mr. Swaim was permanently disabled by the pain.
Pre-arbitration offer was $0.Practice Area Plaintiff
G. SwaimInsurance Company Offer
$222,000 Arbitration Decision
Bauer v. Progressive Insurance
Client was a passenger in a motorhome that was hit at between 70-100 mph by a drunk driver who had previously received 3 DUIs. Not surprisingly, he was not properly insured at the time. She was accompanied in the motorhome by her father (driver), mother, grandmother and grandfather.
The impact caused over $100,000 in vehicle damage to the motorhome, destroying the entire side. The impact threw client from the side seat forward into the engine area and then to the floor. She had a lost period of consciousness of approximately 3-4 minutes. There were several collisions all at once in a small rural area hospital in SW Washington on the coast, and she didn’t get much care at the ER.
She went to a doctor a few days later complaining of head pain, blackouts, light headedness, loss of sleep, vertigo and head pain. The doctor failed to follow up with any of these initial complaints. The doctor took poor notes from there forward. But, over time the arbitration testimony showed that she started having unusual losses in understanding of where she was, abnormal brain activity, and increasing cognitive problems.
Despite this, her own insurer offered her $5,000 in settlement.
Defense counsel in this case was extremely aggressive both toward client and her parents who were also injured. What we showed in the arbitration was that client had sustained a brain injury in the crash and that this had caused the onset of non-spasmodic temporal lobe seizures that had caused increasing brain damage because it was missed by her initial treating doctor for a year. She had clear seizure activity that was immediately picked up when she and her parents left the initial doctor. She had positive EEG studies, and at our suggestion had an advanced epilepsy study called MEG at UCSD, which definitely diagnosed the epilepsy. The epilepsy and increasing brain damage had also caused widespread hormonal changes, which is typical for that type of temporal lobe epilepsy. (There was, incidentally, no epilepsy present before the crash, or in any member of her family.) We showed both through plaintiff and defense experts that the risk of epilepsy after head trauma was increased by 25x the normal rate when the person experienced a “blackout” within the first week after the accident, as noted in the first doctor’s intake records.
She experienced problems working since the crash, and other problems functioning normally.
The defense arbitrator was a former partner with the defense lawyer, and apparently was successful at convincing the neutral arbitrator that the brain injury should not be included in the arbitration decision due to the lack of notes by the first doctor, despite her report of the problems within three days of the collision, and lay witness testimony about the loss of consciousness at the scene and multiple problems within the first year after the crash.
Despite all of the brain injury damages being excluded, the arbitrators still awarded $181,000 in damages, 36 times the amount offered prior to the arbitration. While we do not view this case as a success, it demonstrates a case that our firm took from a $5,000 offer to a $181,000 outcome that was only held down by the first doctors failure to correctly refer the patient or take adequate chart notes.Practice Area Plaintiff
BauerInsurance Company Offer
$181,000 Arbitration Decision
Confidential v. Medical Transport Company
This was an exceptionally complex traumatic brain injury case involving a client who had a pre-existing severe traumatic brain injury that had disabled him approximately one year before the case for which we represented him. He was unable to walk, use his left arm, had limited speaking abilities, a deviated left eye, and had significant cognitive and behavioral issues prior to the event for which we represented him.
While seeking care for the pre-existing traumatic brain injury a medical transportation company failed to put a lift gate up when unloading him from the transport vehicle. Client was pushed backward out of the transport vehicle in a wheelchair, fell three feet and struck his head. This created a worsening of his pre-existing severe symptoms, including the onset of two seizures within a week of him being pushed out of the medical transport van. The insurer initially made no offer, hired defense counsel and then asked us to enter into pre-litigation mediation. In order to properly resolve this case, negotiations were necessary with Medicaid and Medicare to ensure he doesn’t lose care for his pre-existing injury, and we helped the family set up a special needs trust.Practice Area Plaintiff
ConfidentialInsurance Company Offer
Minor Pedestrian v. Driver
Client was an 11-year-old boy on a non-motorized scooter in an area heavily populated by children in Vancouver Washington. His friend of approximately the same age scooted up along the sidewalk with him to an intersection, but the friend stopped at a box van parked right in front of the road crossing – obstructing their view of oncoming traffic to their left. Unfortunately, our client did not stop at the box van and was hit by an oncoming pickup truck.
The client sustained serious injuries including a severe traumatic brain injury with multiple skull fractures. He also had internal bleeding and a ruptured spleen. Despite excellent medical care at Randall Children’s Hospital in an attempt to surgically save the spleen, it never returned to function.
Liability was denied by the driver who hit our client. The client’s parent’s underinsured motorist insurer also deemed the child at fault because the driver said that the client had simply ridden the scooter right in front of him. If that was true, our child client would have received no compensation for the severe brain injury and loss of his spleen.
We hired a biomechanical and crash reconstruction expert to evaluate the vehicle weight and the police investigation distances (including the distance that our client landed on the road in front of the vehicle) to determine which party was at fault. We went into the evaluation objectively, not knowing if the claim was viable. The result of that biomechanical and crash reconstruction investigation showed that the driver was traveling 28 mph (over the speed limit) in an area where he had admitted to police that he had seen children playing that day. Further investigation on our part showed that the driver only lived two blocks away from the scene of the crash and that the community commonly had children playing in the streets including multiple basketball hoops at the side of the road.
This case considered both Washington law (where the crash occurred) and Oregon law (where the underinsured motorist policy was originally written). We analyzed the legal issue of a child’s negligence because the standard for our client’s conduct was not that of an adult, but instead what a reasonable child should expect. Through our legal research, we were able to demonstrate to the insurer that they could not attribute negligence to our minor client in the same way as they would with an adult. Given the severity of the injuries, if the jury found that a “reasonable child” would not have stopped while other kids were playing in the street, we expected the verdict would be very large.
Given the fact that the driver was driving in excess of the speed limit in the area despite knowing that children were playing in the streets, the fact that he regularly saw kids playing in the streets there because he only lived two blocks away, combined with our legal research on child negligence standards, both insurers paid the full amount of the insurance policies.Practice Area Plaintiff
Confidential (Minor client)Insurance Company Offer
Undisclosed policy limit settlements from both the liability and UIM insurers
- Wang v. State Farm – $145,000 UIM Arbitration Award (In Excess of Insurance Policy Limit)*
- Doe v. State Farm – $130,515 UM Arbitration Decision on $0 offer. Minor vehicle damage crash with traumatic brain injury and depression.
- McHugh v. Mutual of Enumclaw – $116,278.89 Underinsured Motorist Arbitration Award
- Kurtz v. Eric Hepler, Inc. – $111,500 settlement
- Beaudin v. Wahedi – $110,000 Policy Limits settlement + UIM settlement*
- Lingo v. Shaver – $110,000 Policy limits + Personal Assets*
- Bailey v. Sutherland – $105,388.20 verdict on $5,000 offer in Linn County. This was in excess of the defendants policy limit.*
- Lovering v. Montplaisir – $100,000 (Policy limit)* Car hit pedestrian, leaving permanent facial scarring.
- Nicosia v. Locey – $100,000 (Policy Limits)*
- Olinger v. Nationwide Insurance – $100,000 (Policy Limits)*
- Walker v. Sampson – $100,000 (Policy Limits)*
- Wang v. Travelers Insurance – $100,000 (Policy Limits)*
- Wilson v. McDermaid – $100,000 (Policy Limits)* Heart Attack after car crash trauma.
- Erdman v. Garry – $100,000 (Policy Limits)* permanent facial scarring
- Jacobus v. Candamo – $100,000 (Policy Limits)* mild traumatic brain injury
- Chimienti v. Healy & Boelter – $100,000 policy limits from first defendant + $5,000 from second defendant.*
- Torgeson v. Hoerner – $100,000 (Policy Limits)*
- Bucknell v. Estate of Hammer – Confidential Settlement
Multiple more jury verdicts, arbitration awards, and settlements for policy limits at or below $100,000.
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