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Michigan Verdicts

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Defense argued that rotator cuff injury was result of prior crash

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Michigan

Venue:

Berrien County

Court:

Berrien County, Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

head-closed head injury; other-back and neck; other-aggravation of pre-existing condition; shoulder; shoulder-rotator cuff, injury (tear)

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Passenger; Insurance - Attendant Care; Motor Vehicle - Intersection, No-Fault Case; Insurance - First-party Benefits; Motor Vehicle - Multiple Vehicle, Automobile Insurance

Case Name:

Leisa T. Hansing v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co. and Ohio Casualty Insurance Co., No. 2014-000212-NF

Date:

March 9, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Leisa T. Hansing (Female, 57 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

William K. Murphy; Ford & Murphy, PC; Kalamazoo, MI, for Leisa T. Hansing

Defendant(s):

Auto-Owners Insurance Co., 

Ohio Casualty Insurance Co.

Defense Attorney(s):

Douglas C. Allen; Straub, Seaman & Allen, PC; St. Joseph, MI, for Auto-Owners Insurance Co. ■ Emily Partridge; Garan, Lucow, Miller, PC; Grand Rapids, MI, for Ohio Casualty Insurance Co.

Insurer(s):

Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. for Hansing (first-party carrier) Auto-Owners Insurance Co. for Hansing (first-party carrier)

Facts:

In October 2013, plaintiff Leisa T. Hansing, 57 and disabled, was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an automobile accident. The collision caused the vehicle's airbags to deploy. Hansing had no complaints of injuries at the scene, but later claimed neck, back and shoulder injuries, as well as an aggravation of a pre-existing closed head injury. Hansing was also involved in a prior accident that allegedly resulted in cervical and lumbar injuries. Hansing filed suit against Auto-Owners Insurance Company with regard to the October 2013 accident, and Ohio Casualty Insurance Company with regard to the prior accident. The insurance companies were first-party carriers at the time of the respective accidents. Hansing settled with Ohio Casualty for approximately $100,000 and Ohio Casualty was then dismissed from the case. The case proceeded to trial on the claim against Auto-Owners. Hansing alleged that Auto-Owners breached its contract to provide benefits, including attendant care and medicals. She claimed she provided timely proof of the accident and her injuries, which were causally related. Auto-Owners denied any breach of first-party contractual benefits and contended that Hansing did not suffer injuries as a result of the October 2013 accident.

Injury:

Hansing sought emergency treatment for complaints of neck and back pain later on the day of the October 2013 accident. She was ultimately diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff. The treating orthopedic surgeon reportedly observed recent "tissue changes" during surgery, and claimed those changes were related to the October 2013 accident. Hansing sought attendant care for 12 hours per day, which was later reduced to five hours per day. She also sought medicals. Auto-Owners denied that Hansing's claims were causally related to the October 2013 accident, noting that, prior to the accidents subject to this lawsuit, Hansing had been involved in four motor vehicle accidents over the course of 20 years, and was allegedly disabled as a result of injuries sustained in those accidents. Auto-Owners argued that Hansing's primary injury, a torn rotator cuff, was sustained in a 1994 accident and had been diagnosed in 1999. The defense denied that Hansing was entitled to attendant care or medical benefits. Case evaluation was $35,000, which plaintiff accepted and defendant rejected.

Result:

The jury found for Auto-Owners and a verdict of no cause of action was entered.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Sterling R. Schrock

Trial Length:

2  days

Trial Deliberations:

50  minutes

Jury Composition:

7 jurors

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to a request for comment.