Home Vehicle Accidents $8 Million Verdict Awarded Over Florida Car Crash, But Lesser Recovery Is Possible

$8 Million Verdict Awarded Over Florida Car Crash, But Lesser Recovery Is Possible

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A jury awarded nearly $8 million to a man who claimed that he suffered spinal injuries in a motor-vehicle accident in Sanford. But recovery of that award could be capped at $100,000 as defense counsel has since moved to reduce the verdict to its $100,000 insurance policy limits.

On April 10, 2018, plaintiff James Feaster, 35, a project manager, was driving on West State Road 46, near its intersection at Hickman Drive, in Sanford. His pickup truck’s rear end was struck by a trailing car that was being driven by Julia Lyon. Feaster claimed that he suffered injuries of his back and neck.

Feaster sued Lyon and her vehicle’s owner, Michael Lyon. Feaster also sued his own insurer, Progressive Select Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. The lawsuit alleged that Julia Lyon was negligent in the operation of her vehicle. The lawsuit further alleged that Michael Lyon was vicariously liable for Julia Lyon’s actions. Progressive Select Insurance was pursued for underinsured-motorist benefits.

Plaintiff’s counsel negotiated a settlement of the claims against Julia Lyon and Michael Lyon, and Progressive Select Insurance’s counsel later conceded liability. The matter proceeded to a trial that addressed damages against Progressive Select Insurance.

After a day had passed, Feaster visited a chiropractor. Feaster claimed that he was suffering pain related to the accident. Conservative treatment was recommended.

Feaster ultimately claimed that he suffered herniations of his C6-7, L4-5 and L5-S1 intervertebral discs.

Feaster underwent a total of about four years of chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy. He also underwent administration of six epidural injections of steroid-based painkillers. The injections were directed to his cervical and lumbar regions.

Feaster claimed that he suffers residual pain and limitations that greatly hinder his performance of any activity. He claimed that he has needed as much as an hour of rest after activities as harmless as, for example, playing cards. He also claimed that he refused a golf outing because it would have prevented him from standing during a wedding the next day. A doctor has recommended fusion of a portion of the cervical region of Feaster’s spine. Feaster claimed that he also requires additional chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy, and he further claimed that he may require additional painkilling injections. He sought recovery of past and future medical expenses, and he sought recovery of damages for past and future pain and suffering.

The defense contended that the accident caused nothing more than a sprain or strain that should have resolved within 12 weeks. It contended that any other injury predated the accident.

The jury found that Feaster’s damages totaled $7,877,492.22. Defense counsel has moved to reduce the recovery to the limit of Progressive Select Insurance’s coverage. Defense counsel has also moved for a new trial or, alternatively, remittitur.

Verdict: $7,877,492.22

Case: James O. Feaster v. Julia Gray Lyon and Michael Gray Lyon, No. 2018CA002377

Court: Seminole County Circuit Court, 18th

Judge: Charles Holcomb

Date: 5/11/2022

Plaintiff Attorneys: Eric “Rick” Block; Morgan & Morgan, P.A.; Jacksonville, FL Matthew McKie; Morgan & Morgan, P.A.; Orlando, FL Alicia M. Smith; Morgan & Morgan, P.A.; Orlando, FL Adrienn N. Toth; Morgan & Morgan, P.A.; Orlando, FL

Defense Attorneys: Aaron Leviten; Law Office of Terryl Blackmon Walker; Maitland, FL (Progressive Select Insurance Co.) Michelle Smith; Law Office of Terryl Blackmon Walker; Maitland, FL (Progressive Select Insurance Co.) Terryl Blackmon Walker; Law Office of Terryl Blackmon Walker; Maitland, FL (Progressive Select Insurance Co.) None reported (Julia Gray Lyon, Michael Gray Lyon)

James Feaster award breakdown:

$52,661.35 past medical cost

$1,008,571.87 future medical cost

$621,866.5 past pain suffering

$6,194,392.5 future pain suffering

$7,877,492.22 plaintiff’s total award

Insurer: Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

Trial Details: Trial Length         4 Days

Trial Deliberations 5 Hours

Jury Vote             6-0

Jury Composition  1 male, 5 female

Plaintiff Experts: Santo Steven BiFulco M.D., life care planning, Tampa, FL Sean Mahan M.D., radiology, Winter Springs, FL (treating doctor) Nizam Razack M.D., neurosurgery, Orlando, FL (treating doctor)

Defense Experts: Michael Foley M.D., radiology, Tampa, FL Craig Jones M.D., orthopedic surgery, Orlando, FL

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