It only took two hours for the jury to render a verdict in the case of Luttrell v. Leddy-Weaver. The Plaintiff sought approximately $40,000 in damages, and the jury awarded her only $831 (net judgment $457), less than 2.5% of her trial demand. Harrison + Hull attorneys Richard Harrison and Matthew Mumm argued this case in Dallas County Judge Craig Smith’s court, and delivered an optimal outcome for their client. Below are the facts of this case as reported by Verdict Search:
Case: Jeana Luttrell v. David Leddy-Weaver (No. DC-14-01306K)
Court: 192nd Judicial District, Dallas County, Texas
Date: January 28, 2016
Facts of the Case:
On April 15, 2012, plaintiff Jeana Luttrell, 18, a part-time salesperson for a lingerie retailer, was driving a 2007 Chrysler Sebring sedan on Davis Street in Mesquite. Davis Street has two lanes and is one-way. David Leddy-Weaver, driving a 1991 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, was stopped at a stop sign on Ebrite Street, waiting to cross Davis Street.
Leddy-Weaver proceeded into the intersection, and Luttrell struck his left rear quarter panel. Luttrell sued Leddy-Weaver for negligently failing to yield the right of way and failing to keep a proper lookout.
Plaintiffs counsel argued that Leddy-Weaver alone was negligent. Leddy-Weaver admitted failing to yield the right of way, but said he looked both ways before proceeding and did not see Luttrell. Also, he was almost all the way across the intersection before Luttrell hit him, and after the accident, Luttrell told him that she was sony and that she had not seen him.
Defense counsel argued that Luttrell was speeding and not maintaining a proper lookout and that she was 50 percent responsible for the accident.
Alleged Injuries and Damages:
After the accident, Luttrell’s parents took her to the emergency room within an hour. She claimed neck and back sprains and strains. Five days after the accident, she went to a chiropractor and started physical therapy and chiropractic care. She treated with the chiropractor more than 30 times, through Aug. 27. During that time, she also consulted with a pain management specialist. Luttrell claimed that she was still in pain at the time of trial.
In mid-August 2012, after being terminated from her sales job, Luttrell went to work for a chiropractic clinic, and she underwent adjustments there every couple of months through 2014. However, Luttrell claimed that these adjustments were not really “treatment”; that she was not billed for them; and that her employer just wanted to make sure all his employees’ spines were properly adjusted.
During her sophomore and junior years, through September 2010, she had contacted doctors several times to complain of severe back pain. However, she claimed that from September 2010 until the accident, her back was asymptomatic. She sought $19,831.30 in past medical bills, including $831.30 for the emergency room bill. She also sought $19,831.30 for past physical pain and $198 for past lost wages.
The defense questioned her credibility. In her written discovery responses and in her deposition prior to trial, she made no mention of the complaints or problems of her sophomore and junior years and made no mention of the adjustments she received while working at the chiropractic clinic.
Also, before her first adjustment at the clinic where she was an employee, she filled out a patient intake form, saying that she had been experiencing constant back pain for two years and that the pain was not related to an accident.
The defense expert, Dr. George Wharton, an orthopedic surgeon, opined that it is reasonable to be checked out at the emergency room after an accident, but that Luttrell needed no other treatment. He noted that there were no objective findings of injury at the hospital and that the MRI’s of her neck and lower back were normal.
The defense also noted that Luttrell’s employment records from the lingerie store did not reflect any missed work and that that none of the bills from the treating chiropractor had been paid.
The jury found negligence and comparative responsibility of 55 percent on Leddy-Weaver and 45 percent on Luttrell. The jury awarded Luttrell $831.30. Comparative responsibility reduced Plaintiff’s recovery to $457.21.