On January 30, 2013, shareholder Mark Trimble won a defense verdict in an auto accident case heard before a jury in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas. The case, Nancy Bloom, et al. v. Kelly Powhida, culminated in a trial which lasted two and a half days.
The Plaintiff, Nancy and Michael Bloom, sought damages resulting from an accident in which Defendant Kelly Powhida struck the rear-end of a vehicle operated by the Plaintiff’s daughter, Carrie B. Stout. Mrs. Bloom was a passenger in her daughter’s vehicle, which was estimated to have incurred damages of $6,250.16. Photographs of the vehicle indicated that it had incurred moderate to heavy rear-end damage. Ms. Powhida’s vehicle was estimated to have sustained damages of $6,444.06.
During the trial, the Plaintiffs presented medical bills of $87,003.44. The Robinson v. Bates number (the amount actually paid to Mrs. Bloom’s medical providers as full payment for treatment) was never clearly identified, but Plaintiff’s counsel agreed on the approximate amount of $33,000.
A key focal point in the case was that Mrs. Bloom had a significant pre-existing condition, which she partly denied. Mrs. Bloom, during her deposition, admitted that she had surgery on her neck in 2004. During her deposition, she testified that her only neck issue between her surgery and the accident was some mild stiffness, for which she saw a chiropractor for treatment one time. During trial, Mr. Trimble pointed out that this testimony was incorrect as Mrs. Bloom was treated on a regular basis by multiple doctors. Before the accident occurred, Mrs. Bloom received multiple physical therapy sessions as well as an MRI, CT scans, multiple EMGs and X-rays of her neck. At the time of the accident, Mrs. Bloom was taking several medications for her neck.
During the trial, Mrs. Bloom and most of her witnesses were impeached regarding their testimony about her prior medical treatment. In fact, Mrs. Bloom’s husband admitted that his wife had neck and back issues before the accident occurred. Three expert physicians testified on Mrs. Bloom’s behalf: the neurosurgeon who performed her prior surgery, her family physician, and a neurologist that Mrs. Bloom had seen both before and after the accident. A major issue in the trial was Mrs. Bloom’s expert witnesses being unaware of her prior treatment. Another factor which worked against Mrs. Bloom was the investigating officer’s testimony that Mrs. Bloom had stated at the scene of the accident that she was not injured. Following the accident, however, Mrs. Bloom went to her home before going to the emergency room.
The defense did not need to present an independent medical examiner. Instead, the defense’s only witness was the Defendant herself, who testified regarding the accident and admitting her negligence in causing the accident.
Prior to the trial, the parties attempted to mediate the dispute. The Defendant initially offered the Blooms $10,000 to settle the case. The Blooms did not make a counteroffer to Ms. Powhida’s offer at the mediation; instead, the Blooms’ first settlement demand was made a week prior to trial for the amount of $100,000. Ms. Powhida countered with an offer of $15,000. On the date of trial, the Blooms demanded $80,000, but were informed that the defense would not offer more than $30,000 to settle the case. The Plaintiffs suggested $50,000, which was rejected by the defense. Although the court recommended that the Plaintiffs reconsider the Defendant’s offer of $30,000 on the second day of the case, the Blooms rejected the offer and reiterated that they would not settle for less than $50,000.
On January 30, the case was submitted to the jury. The jury deliberated for only 35 minutes, then returned a defense verdict on behalf of Ms. Powhida and against the Blooms, whereupon the Court entered a judgment for the defense. The Blooms have since filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and seeking a new trial, which remains pending before the Court.