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Texas Verdicts

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Car buyer hit by SUV said auction operator was negligent

Amount:

$1,500,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Texas

Venue:

Harris County

Court:

Harris County District Court, 55th

Injury Type(s):

leg-fracture (fracture, tibia), leg (fracture, tibia); leg-fracture (fracture, fibula), leg (fracture, fibula); knee-fracture, patella; other-reconstructive surgery

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Truck, Pedestrian

Case Name:

Peter Ghan v. Manheim Remarketing Inc., Curtis Lewis, and FW Services, d/b/a Pacesetter Personnel Services, No. 2015-05623

Date:

December 9, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Peter Ghan (Male, 64 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Steve Kherkher; Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas LLP; Houston, TX, for Peter Ghan ■ Jim Hart; Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas LLP; Houston, TX, for Peter Ghan

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Mark Brinker; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Houston, TX called by: Steve Kherkher, Jim Hart

Defendant(s):

FW Services, 

Curtis Lewis, 

Manheim Remarketing Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Gary G. Green; Vincent Serafino Geary Waddell & Jenevein; Houston, TX, for FW Services, Curtis Lewis ■ Glenn J. Fahl; Vincent Serafino Geary Waddell & Jenevein; Houston, TX, for FW Services, Curtis Lewis ■ David A. Oubre; Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith; Houston, TX, for Manheim Remarketing Inc. ■ Kristopher M. Stockberger; Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith; Houston, TX, for Manheim Remarketing Inc.

Facts:

On Jan. 20, 2015, plaintiff Peter Ghan, 64, a car buyer for dealerships, was at a car auction operated by Manheim Remarketing Inc. in Houston. Curtis Lewis was working as a driver at the auction, moving vehicles. Lewis was driving a Ford Explorer when he struck Ghan, who was on foot. Ghan sustained a broken patella, fibula and tibia. Lewis was in the course and scope of his employment with FW Services, a temporary staffing agency. Ghan sued Lewis, FW Services and Manheim for negligence. He alleged that Lewis failed keep a proper lookout, control his speed, or brake or turn to avoid the accident and that both companies were vicariously liable for Lewis' negligence. He further alleged that both FW Services and Manheim encouraged drivers to move cars quickly, without regard to safety. Plaintiff's counsel argued for comparative responsibility of 50 to 60 percent on FW Services, 25 to 30 percent on Manheim, 5 to 10 percent on Lewis and 1 to 5 percent on Ghan. Lewis was served, but could not be located afterward and did not attend trial. FW Services denied any negligence on its part or Lewis' and argued that Ghan negligently failed to watch where he was going. Ghan was in the middle of a vehicle lane when the accident happened, the defense argued. Plaintiff's counsel said photos of the scene indicated otherwise. Manheim denied negligence and argued that, under its staffing agreement, it was not vicariously liable for Lewis' negligence. It also argued that Ghan negligently failed to watch where he was going.

Injury:

Ghan was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He sustained a fractured left kneecap, tibia and fibula. He was discharged from the hospital after two days, with his leg in a brace. Shortly thereafter, he underwent surgical reconstruction of his knee and lower leg, followed by rehabilitation. He was unable to put any weight on his leg for 90 days, and he was off work until October 2015. Ghan sought a total of $2.5 million to $3 million, for past and future physical pain and mental anguish and physical impairment. He did not seek damages for medical bills. The defense argued that the damages sought by plaintiff's counsel were excessive. FW Services' counsel suggested that, if the jury reached the damages question, it should award $50,000. Manheim's counsel suggested $200,000.

Result:

The jury found negligence and comparative responsibility of 50 percent on FW Services, 40 percent on Manheim, 5 percent on Lewis and 5 percent on Ghan, whose damages the jury found were $1.5 million.

Peter Ghan: $450,000 Personal Injury: Past Physical Impairment; $300,000 Personal Injury: Future Physical Impairment; $450,000 Personal Injury: past physical pain and mental anguish; $300,000 Personal Injury: future physical pain and mental anguish

Actual Award:

$1,431,702.43

Trial Information:

Judge:

Jeff Shadwick

Trial Length:

4  days

Jury Vote:

12-0

Post Trial:

The court entered judgment for $750,000 against FW Services; $600,000 against Manheim; and $75,000 against Lewis. The judgment also included costs of court in the amount of $6,702.43, bringing the total to $1,431,702.43.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.