Facts: The accident occurred when a 500 lb. rebar cage elevated over 15 feet by a forklift slipped off the forks and fell onto the plaintiff and a CMU block wall he was building at a residential housing project. The plaintiff claimed traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as a fractured left wrist, broken ribs, and a shoulder injury. Plaintiff had not returned to work for 4 years following the accident and claimed he would have difficulty returning to work as a mason or any other form of gainful employment. Plaintiff’s experts claimed he was disabled and prepared a multi-million dollar life care plan for his future needs in the case.
The defendants, general contractor and rebar subcontractor, did not contest liability at trial. The defense conceded the plaintiff received injuries to his wrist, shoulder, and ribs as well as blow to his head. Defendants, however, argued that the plaintiff was malingering with respect to his psychiatric claims. The various psychological tests revealed that he was deliberately trying not to perform well. The objective findings, including Glasgow Coma Score, MRI and CT scans did not support the plaintiff’s myriad subjective complaints. In addition, it was not reasonable for the plaintiff to not return to work after his orthopedic injuries had healed.
Damages: Head trauma, fractured ribs, broken left ulnar styloid process, facial abrasions, and concussion resulting in TBI and PTSD somatic symptom disorder.
Plaintiff blackboarded the following damages at trial:
$1,045,422 – Loss of earnings (past and future)
$1,021,235 – Life Care Plan (future)
$2,745,000 – Past non-economic
$2,745,000 – Future non-economic
$7,556,657 – Total
The defense blackboarded reasonable damages in the range of $150,000.
Settlement Discussions: Prior to trial, plaintiffs asserted policy limits demands of $5,000,000 to the general contractor and $1,000,000 to the subcontractor.
Defendants jointly offered $1,000,000. Additionally, a year before trial the general contractor had previously served a C.C.P. 998 for $325,000.
In closing arguments, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award $7.5 million. Mr. Behar suggested the jury award $150,000.
Result: The 12-0 unanimous jury verdict in the case was for a total of $194,435.