Florida Verdicts

Find out about the most important recent Florida cases, selected by VerdictSearch editors. Coverage includes Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties.

Subscribe to VerdictSearch Florida for access to all Florida verdictsSubscribe

Plaintiff claimed he wasn’t speeding prior to collision

Amount:

$573,046.32

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Florida

Venue:

Palm Beach County

Court:

Palm Beach County Circuit Court, 15th

Injury Type(s):

back-bulging disc, lumbar;
head-headaches; neck-bulging disc, cervical;
neck-herniated disc (herniated disc at C3-4), cervical (herniated disc at C3-4);
other-chiropractic; other-epidural injections

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle – Broadside, Left Turn, Stop Sign, Multiple Vehicle

Case Name:

Amos Dumel, Individually v. Mary Beth Chapman, Individually, and, Michael J. Burley, Individually,
No. 50-2017-CA-005139-XXXX-MB

Date:

August 17, 2018

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Amos Dumel (Male, 23 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Ethan F. Kominsky;
Frankl & Kominsky;
Boynton Beach,
FL,
for
Amos Dumel ■ Jodi C. Page;
Frankl & Kominsky;
Boynton Beach,
FL,
for
Amos Dumel

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Allan Tencer; Ph.D.; Biomechanics of Injury; Seattle,
WA called by:
Ethan F. Kominsky, Jodi C. Page ■ Marty WIlliams; CPA/CFF, CFE; Economics; Plantation,
FL called by:
Ethan F. Kominsky, Jodi C. Page ■ Stuart Krost; M.D.; Pain Management; Lake Worth,
FL called by:
Ethan F. Kominsky, Jodi C. Page ■ Thomas Roush; M.D.; Spinal Surgery; West Palm Beach,
FL called by:
Ethan F. Kominsky, Jodi C. Page

Defendant(s):

Mary Beth Chapman, 

Michael J. Burley

Defense Attorney(s):

Vanessa M. Romero-Molina;
Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy & Ford, P.A.;
Fort Lauderdale,
FL,
for
Mary Beth Chapman, Michael J. Burley ■ Theresa Strub Caccippio;
Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy & Ford, P.A.;
Fort Lauderdale,
FL,
for
Mary Beth Chapman, Michael J. Burley

Defendant Expert(s):

Paul Koenigsberg;
Neuroradiology;
Miami,
FL called by:
Vanessa M. Romero-Molina, Theresa Strub Caccippio ■ David Gushue;
Biomechanics of Injury;
Penns Park,
PA called by:
Vanessa M. Romero-Molina, Theresa Strub Caccippio ■ Jordan Grabel;
Neurosurgery;
West Palm Beach,
FL called by:
Vanessa M. Romero-Molina, Theresa Strub Caccippio

Insurer(s):

State Farm Insurance Cos. for both defendants

Facts:

On Dec. 8, 2013, plaintiff Amos Dumel, 23, a grocery clerk, was driving in the eastbound lane of Lighthouse Drive, in Palm Beach Gardens, when the driver’s side of her sport utility vehicle was struck by the front of an SUV operated by Mary Beth Chapman, who was exiting the nearby Promenade Shopping Center and attempting to make a left turn onto eastbound Lighthouse Drive. Dumel claimed injuries to his neck and back. Dumel sued Chapman and the owner of Chapman’s SUV, Michael Burley. Dumel alleged that Chapman was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and that Burley was vicariously liable for Chapman’s actions. Dumel claimed that Chapman failed to stop for a stop sign prior to making the left turn and that Chapman failed to yield the right of way. He also claimed that Chapman turned into the side of his SUV, so he did not have time to avoid Chapman’s vehicle. Chapman claimed that she stopped for the stop sign, but that she did not see Dumel’s vehicle until a few seconds before the crash because Dumel was speeding. She alleged that as a result, she was unable to avoid his vehicle as she was making her turn. In response, Dumel and his brother, who was in the car with him at the time of the crash, both claimed that Dumel was not speeding. Plaintiff’s counsel also argued that there was no evidence of Dumel speeding prior to the collision and that because Chapman admitted to not seeing Dumel’s vehicle until a few seconds before the crash, Chapman had no way of knowing whether Dumel was speeding.

Injury:

Dumel claimed he sustained a herniated cervical disc at the C3-4 level and bulging cervical and lumbar discs at the C4-5 and L4-5 levels. He first sought treatment with a chiropractor on Dec. 16, 2013, eight days after the accident. Dumel began a course of conservative chiropractic treatment and underwent an MRI of his neck on March 20, 2014. He continued to consistently receive chiropractic treatment through August 2016, but during that time he also received epidural steroid injections in February 2015 and March 2015. Dumel ultimately underwent surgery on his cervical spine on Aug. 19, 2016. The procedure included a replacement of his C3-4 disc. He then underwent a few additional chiropractic treatments in 2018. The plaintiff’s biomechanics expert opined that the forces of the accident were strong enough to cause a herniation in Dumel’s neck. The plaintiff’s treating spinal surgeon and pain management doctor testified about Dumel’s treatment. They also opined that Dumel’s injuries were a result of the subject crash. Dumel claimed that he continued to suffer neck pain, which made it hard for him to stock shelves as part of his job at a grocery store. He ended up leaving that job, but he did ultimately find a new one. Dumel also claimed that he would sometimes wake up with headaches due to his neck injury. In addition, he welcomed a baby after the accident, but claimed that his injuries made it hard for him to pick up the child or take the child to the park or beach. Dumel alleged that he needs additional follow-up treatment and that he may possibly need neck surgery to an adjacent disc once he got older. The plaintiff’s expert economist calculated the present value of Dumel’s alleged future medical care. Dumel sought recovery of past and future medical expenses and damages for his past and future pain and suffering. His counsel specifically asked for $172,035.72 in past medical expenses. Defense counsel argued that Dumel did not sustain a permanent injury in the accident. The defense’s expert neurosurgeon and expert neuroradiologist testified that there were no acute findings on Dumel’s MRI that indicated that the herniation was a result of the accident. They also found no objective neurological findings, such as radiculopathy or compression of the spinal cord. The experts further opined that the accident did not necessitate Dumel’s neck surgery and that Dumel had a good outcome following the procedure. The defense’s biomechanics expert opined that the forces involved in the crash were not sufficient to cause a herniated disc.

Result:

The jury found that Chapman was 100 percent liable for the accident. It determined that Dumel’s damages totaled $573,046.32. After the reduction of a PIP setoff, his net recovery should total $563,607.59.

Amos Dumel: $172,036 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost; $251,011 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost; $75,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering; $75,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering

Actual Award:

$563,607.59

Trial Information:

Judge:

Donald W. Hafele

Demand:

$250,000

Offer:

$60,000

Trial Length:

3
 days

Trial Deliberations:

2
 hours

Jury Vote:

6-0

Jury Composition:

3 male/ 3 female; 1 black/ 2 Hispanic/ 3 white

Post Trial:

Plaintiff’s counsel has filed a motion to tax costs.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Additional information was gleaned from court documents. Defense counsel declined to contribute.