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Ronald Osterhout and Stephanie Osterhout v Brandon Michael Woodley and The Sygma Network, Inc.

Case Caption: Ronald Osterhout and Stephanie Osterhout v Brandon Michael Woodley and The Sygma Network, Inc., Case No. 07-24204-NI, In The Monroe County Circuit Court, State of Michigan

Verdict: $300,000.

Judge: Joseph A. Costello, Jr.

Date of Vedict: 3/21/2011


Plaintiff: Edmund O. Battersby, of the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, Farmington Hills

Samuel I. Bernstein, Farmington Hills

Defendant: Russell W. Porritt II, Bloomfield Hills

Wendy C. Johnson, Toledo, OH

Facts: Two tractor-trailers were involved in a rear-end collision that allegedly resulted in disabling injuries to the plaintiff. The defendants disputed causation and serious impairment. A Monroe County jury returned a $300,000 verdict for plaintiff; the plaintiff was entitled to $400,000 pursuant to a high/low agreement reached before trial.

Plaintiff Ronald Osterhout was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 24. Defendant Brandon Woodley was operating another tractor-trailer owned by Defendant The Sygma Network, Inc. and was travelling behind Plaintiff. Woodley rear-ended plaintiff. Defendants admitted liability.

Plaintiff alleged that he sustained serious back injury and never returned to work. He required two separate fusion surgeries. He was ultimately diagnosed with failed back syndrome and was disabled from working as a truck driver. Plaintiff claimed he may have had pre-existing physical complaints, but none of the prior injuries disabled him from working or caused his need for surgery. Plaintiff argued that this impact caused a serious back injury that constituted a serious impairment of body function, which prevented him from working.

Defendants contended that plaintiff had prior shoulder, lower back, wrist and knee problems, including significant arthritis and degeneration in both shoulders. Defendants asserted that plaintiff treated for lower back complaints with radiating pain and a diagnosis of left sciatica more than two months prior to this accident. Defendants argued that this accident did not cause plaintiff's injuries and any injuries plaintiff did sustain did not constitute a serious impairment of body function.

Plaintiff Profile: Plaintiff was a 59-year-old married male who was a truck driver.

Alleged Injury: Grade I spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 and L2-L3. Plaintiff underwent two separate surgical fusions and was diagnosed with failed back syndrome. He was unable to return to work and placed on Social Security Disability. Plaintiff sought excess wage loss and non-economic damages.

Case Evaluation Award: $675,000

Settlement Efforts: Last Demand: $850,000

Last Offer: $300,000

Insurance Carrier: Self-insured


Plaintiff: Ernest Chiodo, M.D., Biomedical Engineer

and medical doctor.

Jeffrey Couturier, D.O. Emergency Medicine

Joseph S. Yazdi, M.D. Neurosurgeon

Dr. Robert Shugart Orthopedic Surgeon

Thomas R. Keucher, M.D. Neurosurgeon

Kiran Tamirisa, M.D. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Keith Lehman, M.D. Internal Medicine

Robert Ancell, Ph.D. Vocational Rehabilitation

Defendant: John F. Wiechel, Ph.D., Biomechanical Engineer

Daniel J. McKernan, M.D. Orthopedic Surgeon

Case status: Case closed.

Portions of the above trial summaries from Michigan Lawyers Weekly and The Michigan Trial Reporter.

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