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Personal Injury: Closed Head Injury - 1 Million Dollar Settlement

Type of Action: Personal Injury/Closed Head Injury
Court and Case #: District of Douglas County Nebraska Docket 891 No. 873
Judge or Jury: N/A
Name of Judge: N/A
Special Damages: $70,000 medicals
Damages Awarded or Settled: Settled
Amount: One Million Dollars ($ 1,000,000.00)
Attorney for Plaintiff: KENNETH I. KOLPAN
Law Office of Kenneth I. Kolpan, P.C. 100 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110-2104
(617) 426-2558
Attorneys for the Defendant: Withheld
Name of case: Troy Thompson, a minor by and through TONIE
KOCARNIK his Mother and Next Friend,
Continental Baking Company, d/b/a WONDER BREAD/HOSTESS CAKE, STEPHEN SHEPARD and SHIRLEY SHEPARD, Husband and Wife
Insurer: Self-insured
Highest Offer: $ 1,000,000.00

Other useful information:

On June 24, 1988, plaintiff was a 13-year-old passenger in defendant Shepherd's vehicle which was traveling westbound on Broad Street in downtown Omaha when it approached an intersection to make a left hand turn. Defendant Shepherd claims he had a green left turn arrow and proceeded to make a left turn while defendant Continental Baking Company's truck traveling in the opposite direction, entered the intersection. The truck collided with the Shepherd vehicle causing the latter to spin, bounce into a curb and hit a traffic sign. Defendant Continental claimed it had a green light and that the Shepherd vehicle was speeding across the intersection. Plaintiff sustained severe brain injury, a broken leg and fractured wrists. He was airlifted to a local hospital.

At the time of trial, plaintiff had graduated from high school and was attending college in California. Prior to his accident he had been an excellent student and athlete. Defense experts claimed that the plaintiff had shown tremendous improvement since the accident and that his current academic and vocational difficulties were related to adolescent issues rather than traumatic brain injury. Defendants' experts stated that the plaintiffs drop in grades in the year immediately prior to his accident supports their opinions that any drop in academic performance was unrelated to the alleged traumatic brain injury.

Plaintiff countered with neuropsychological. neurological, psychiatric, vocational and life-care planning experts who opined individually that the plaintiff had sustained permanent and severe brain injury resulting in cognitive deficits. Experts were going to testify that the plaintiff was depressed. had difficulties with anger, distractibility, language, memory and behavior. Plaintiff's experts were prepared to testify that these problems, the executive function deficits and plaintiff s drop in IQ were likely caused by his traumatic brain injury and were permanent. Defense experts asserted that if plaintiff had a brain injury it was not serious enough to prevent him from attending college.

An all day mediation was held before retired Federal Judge David Blair of Iowa. Plaintiffs counsel presented videotapes of the plaintiff before and after the accident as well as demonstrative evidence of how a head injury occurs.

Case was settled one week before trial with defendant Shepherd contributing $100,000.00 and defendant Continental Baking Co. contributing $900,000.00. This is believed to be one of the largest settlements in a brain injury case in the State of Nebraska.

Published with permission of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.