On September 16th of 2009, my partner, attorney David E. Christensen, received a jury verdict of $2 million in Lenawee County, Michigan. This is the largest verdict recently recovered in that county, and is the result of a car accident that occurred in Adrian, Michigan more than four years ago.
The victim was struck by a negligent driver and suffered serious injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and a shoulder injury that required surgery.
I am especially pleased for our clients, because the defendant’s auto insurance company, Farm Bureau, pulled nearly every dirty trick in the book to try to escape responsibility for this case.
In my next post, I will write about what I believe is the dirtiest, sleaziest insurance company trick of all — which Farm Bureau also pulled. But today, I want to talk surveillance, and how Farm Bureau used it to try to attack the victim’s credibility at trial. Thankfully, a Lenawee County jury saw through this, and returned a jury verdict vindicating his honor.
A word about the victim: He is one of the most honest and wonderful clients our no-fault insurance lawyers have ever had the privilege of helping. He has worked extraordinarily hard to make the best possible medical recovery from the personal injuries he sustained. He tried to hold several jobs, but lost them because of his injuries. Currently, he’s working 20 hours a week after months of working for free, to prove to his current employer that he can do the job. Mr. Mayher’s employer can’t even charge for all of his time, because he works so much slower than the other employees, due to his chronic fatigue and pain. Several people who know him came to court to testify about his outstanding character.
Nevertheless, Farm Bureau hired a team of private investigators to invade the privacy of the his family. They spent countless hours performing surveillance, and the defense lawyers suggested throughout the trial that the victim was exaggerating.
No one, not even the experts that were hired by the defense lawyers, could accuse the victim of lying. They even administered tests specifically meant to detect if someone is not telling the truth. He passed them all with flying colors. As I said above, his work record was incredible.
And the surveillance also showed nothing. Adding insult to injury, why would the insurance company spend tens of thousands of dollars performing surveillance rivaling any FBI sting operation for almost a year, when there was never anything to show? Why show surveillance of him walking and bending down when no one, especially the victim, ever said he can’t walk or bend?
He had a brain injury; a brain injury that even the defense experts (doctors hired by the insurance company) conceded he had. No one ever claimed a leg injury or a back injury! But Farm Bureau and its lawyers thought nothing of invading his privacy, or having the attorneys imply he was embellishing.
The settlement offer from the insurance company was only $100,000 throughout trial. Yet how much money did they spend on surveillance and investigators; not to mention a number of lawyers who, for more than two years took depositions, reviewed every medical record of the victim’s entire life, and spent a week in trial, attempting to perpetuate essentially a giant fraud on the jury? (See my blog tomorrow for more on this deception).
If the jury’s verdict had been low, or failed to compensate the victim for the full extent of his losses, people may always have wondered about his honesty. The thought that this could have happened to this man is very upsetting to me. I’m glad the jury was able to see through this dirty trick.
To read about more results our lawyers have achieved visit our verdicts and settlements webpage.
David E. Christensen is a Michigan Auto Law partner and an executive board member of the Michigan Association for Justice. David is vice chair of the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Law Section, and is a recognized expert on closed-head and psychiatric injury cases.
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles Michigan car, truck and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. To talk to an auto accident lawyer contact us at (800) 777-0028.
Steve Gursten details a $2 Million verdict for attorney David E. Christensen in 2009 as well as some background about the case.