$4.356 Million Verdict for Brain Injured Client on March 8, 2016
A Crash So Violent, Rear Bumper Ends Up Inches Behind the Driver's Ear
Mercedes Benz of Melbourne's employee crashed into the rear of the 43-year-old client on a rural highway in Florida. The crash destroyed three cars and rendered the client unconscious. Clothes from the luggage in the client's trunk wound up on the front passenger floorboard due to the force of the crash. The rear bumper ended up inches behind the client's ear.
The client lost consciousness and sustained multiple fractures to her arm and ribs, permanent injuries to her shoulder. She suffers from traumatic brain injury (TBI) as evidenced by a positive QEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram), positive SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) imaging, positive PET (positron emission tomography) scan and positive MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans with diffusion tensor imaging. The client continues to suffer cognitive difficulties and lives in severe pain on a daily basis due to headaches and neck injuries. She will never return to "normal."
The defense admitted liability on the first day of the seven-day jury trial but contested causation and damages. It argued that the client does not have traumatic brain injury. The defense presented numerous retained expert witnesses who claimed that the imaging studies were negative despite the client's treating doctors testifying that they were positive. Finally, the defense used more than 52 pages of Facebook postings and 82 hours of surveillance in an unsuccessful attempt to discredit the client. A neuroradiologist, who provides blind reads of images to both plaintiffs and defendants, testified that the client has permanent traumatic brain injury. A physiatrist, testified about more than one million dollars in future medical care and treatment.
After two days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of $4,356,000.00, consisting of past medical bills of $155,401.98, future damages for medical expenses reduced to present value of $1,200,599.02, past pain and suffering of $1,000,000.00 and future pain and suffering in the amount of $2,000,000.00.
Plaintiff's counsel: Douglas R. Beam and Riley H. Beam, Melbourne, Florida; Mark S. Roman and Morgan L. Gaynor, Clearwater, Florida. Trial consultant and Demonstrative Aids: Harvey A. Moore, Ph.D., Tampa, Florida. Brain model: Robert Shepherd of Medivisuals, Richmond, Virginia. Trial Technology Specialist: Seth Headley, Viera, Florida.
Record-Breaking Verdict of $28,500,000 Awarded In Traumatic Brain Injury Case
Client v. THE IMPORTED CAR STORE, INC.; THE DINGMAN GROUP, INC.; and JASON ANDREW NEAL.
18th Circuit Court – Brevard County, Florida
Judge George W. Maxwell, III
Plaintiffs’ counsel: Douglas Beam, Melbourne, Florida; Riley Beam, Melbourne, Florida; Elizabeth Zwibel, Tampa, Florida; John Romano, West Palm Beach, Florida; Dustin Herman, West Palm Beach, Florida; and trial consultant, Harvey A. Moore, Ph.d., Tampa, Florida.
Defense counsel: David Tarlow, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jade Gummer, Orlando, Florida.
In 2005, the client was a 43-year old computer engineer who programmed software for the United States military and had top secret clearance. On Monday morning, October 17, 2005, the client witnessed a car crash on his way to work. The man and the elderly woman involved in the crash pulled off the road and into the nearby parking lot of The Imported Car Store. The client decided to pull over and serve as a witness to the crash and to assist the elderly woman. The at fault driver, Jason Neal, turned out to be the General Sales Manager of The Imported Car Store; the car he was driving was a company car. With other employees watching, Mr. Neal told the elderly woman to get off “his lot” and threatened to have her car towed. When the client identified himself as an eyewitness to the accident, Mr. Neal became irate and head-butted the client. The other employees did not step in as Mr. Neal was the senior manager on the scene. As described by one witness, the client was knocked unconscious, fell to the ground, and his head bounced on the concrete “like a hollow coconut.” According to testimony, Mr. Neal continued to attack the client while he was unconscious on the ground. An audio recording of the entire encounter was captured by a 911 call already in progress at the time of the attack.
The client suffered a traumatic brain injury and was left permanently brain damaged as a result of the attack. He also developed dystonia – a neurological disorder in which involuntary muscle contractions cause the body to twist and contort into abnormal postures. The client continues to suffer from cognitive difficulties and lives in severe pain on a daily basis from the dystonia. He is currently undergoing evaluations for a cervical fusion and deep brain stimulation. The wife of the client and his three children have become his care takers, and a grief and bereavement expert testified to help explain the family’s loss to the jury.
The defense contested liability, causation, and damages. It argued that Jason Neal was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the attack. The jury found that he was. The defense argued that the post incident CT scans and MRI’s were negative for a traumatic brain injury despite several treating doctors testifying they were positive. The defense also argued that there was a gap in treatment which proved the dystonia was actually caused by an underlying bipolar disorder and/or medication prescribed for depression, despite five different treating physicians testifying that the attack caused the dystonia. Finally, the defense argued that there was significant alcohol abuse and marital discord prior to the attack which indicated the client would have lost his job anyway and that his wife was not deserving of a consortium claim.
The jury returned a verdict of $28,500,000 consisting of $226,000 for past medical expenses, $2,000,000 for future medical expenses, $1,000,000 for lost earnings in the past, $4,000,000 for loss of earning capacity in the future, $1,000,000 for pain and suffering in the past, $6,774,000 for pain and suffering in the future, $10,000,000 for the wife of the client’s loss of her husband’s services, comfort, society, and attention, and $3,500,000 for the children for the loss of their father’s services, comfort, companionship, and society. The jury apportioned 60% of the fault to Jason Neal, 30% to The Imported Car Store, 10% to the Dingman Group, and 0% to the client. The jury also found both The Imported Car Store and the Dingman Group vicariously liable for the actions of Jason Neal.
Other Notable Cases
While the cases below are just a few recent examples, Doug’s work spans over decades and include motor vehicle collisions, civil rights, trucking, aviation, premises liability, slip/trip and falls, negligent security, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, and many other personal injury incidents where his clients suffered paralyzation, brain injuries, life-long physical and emotional injuries, or death.
December 2015 – While stopped on his motorcycle at a red light, Mr. Beam’s client was rear-ended by a vehicle going over 45 miles per hour. The client was launched from his motorcycle, hit with such force that his helmet went off of his head, and suffered facial fractures, fractures in his shoulders, arms, and chest, and a traumatic brain injury, impacting him for the rest of his life. This case settled for a confidential amount at mediation.
October 2014 - In an over decade-long dispute over a multi-million dollar classic car, the judge entered a directed verdict in favor of Mr. Beam's client and did not find that the opposing party had any interest in the vehicle.
August 2014 - An infant girl was run over by a commercial truck in a parking lot, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury and permanent scarring. This case was settled before trial for a confidential amount. The proceeds from this settlement were structured in a way so that the money will be used for treatment to help this girl live as normal and happy a life as she can as she grows up.
January 2012 - An elderly man housed at an assisted living facility was left unmonitored and facility doors were left unlocked and unsecured. The elderly man walked out of the facility and down nearby railroad tracks, where he was struck by a train. Mr. Beam represented the widow, and obtained three separate $1 million judgments against the assisted living facility and its sister companies for the wrongful death of her husband.
September 2013 - A family of four was stopped at a red light, on their way to the zoo, when a tow truck rear-ended their vehicle at a high rate of speed. The impact was so powerful, it caused the father's chair to break, sending him into the backseat where his infant son was sitting. Each family member suffered different injuries, with the oldest son suffering a traumatic brain injury. This case was settled for a confidential amount before trial.
2003 - A boy was training in gymnastics and fell on his head. Because the training facility did not put padding where he fell, a serious injury occurred resulting in the tragic death of the boy. This case settled for a confidential amount before trial.
Mr. Beam has represented thousands of clients of different races, ages, and backgrounds. Each criminal defense requires a unique approach. Mr. Beam is experienced with felonies, misdemeanors, DUIs, juvenile law, Drug Court, Veteran's Court, Mental Health Court, drug and addiction rehabilitation, traffic infractions, administrative proceedings with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and many of the other criminal defense-related programs and agencies. Due to the sensitive nature of these cases, Mr. Beam does not publish results, case-specific facts, or the names of his clients.