Cagle Law Firm

Passenger Gets $650K After Van Launches Over Guardrail

Arbitration Decision for Plaintiff After Crash- New Madrid, Missouri

An arbitration panel has found $650K in damages against the state transportation department in a crash arising from an allegedly unsafe guardrail. The amount was reduced to the statutory cap.

Andrew Mundwiller of The Cagle Law Firm represented the plaintiff who was a passenger in a minivan driven by the plaintiff’s co-worker. The minivan launched over the roadway fencing before going down an embankment and crashing into a utility pole after the driver lost control during a turn.

The two were traveling to assist flood victims when the crash occurred in August of 2012.  Plaintiff’s attorneys alleged the state had not properly maintained the guardrail on Route WW in New Madrid County. Additionally, Plaintiff’s attorneys alleged the guardrail was not at the appropriate height.

Plaintiff suffered fractures to her hip and ribs as well as knee injuries and facial lacerations.  According to Mundwiller, “She had a fracture that was evident right at the site.”

The Plaintiff brought suit against the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.  Mundwiller said the defense contended that current standards did not require the rail and that the Corps of Engineers wouldn’t give them permits to do the earthwork in the area anyway.  “What we showed was that they had internal emails that went back and forth years before the accident which indicated they had done some dirt work in the area in the past……without the Corps of Engineers permission,” said Mundwiller.

As well, Mundwiller said the commission’s primary defense was arguing that the angel at which the vehicle struck the rail would have rendered it ineffective anyway. The defense claimed it was struck nearly perpendicular while the plaintiff argued it was closer to a 45-degree angle.

“As far as the angle of the impact, that kind of became a battle of experts, ” said Mundwiller, “Most of the time, when a vehicle is hitting a guardrail, it is a glancing blow. You sideswipe it a little bit. There are not many times when vehicles encounter it head-on or a 45-degree angle”

Mundwiller dismissed the idea that the rail wasn’t necessary and said the commission’s own plans called for a guardrail at the site.  Also, Mundwiller contended that the commission’s measurements of the slope of the hill were not taken directly at the accident site but farther down the road.

The rail was removed after the accident. The panel issued a 2-1 decision in favor of the Plaintiff, though the award was reduced to $414,418 by the statutory cap. A total of 77 percent of the damages went to Plaintiff and 23 percent went to Plaintiff’s husband who made a claim for loss of consortium and expenses due to his wife’s medical bills.

As well the co-worker’s auto insurance carrier settled for an additional $25,000. The pair’s employer also named in the suit was later dismissed.

$1.5 Million Verdict Upheld on Appeal for Man Injured by Ride

The Cagle Law Firm recently represented a client upon appeal for the injuries he sustained in 2012 at an entertainment complex in Crystal City, Mo. The client was attending a private fundraising event at Crystal City Underground, owned by Fiesta Group, when he got on a ride, called the “Human Gyroscope” or “Spaceball.” This single –seat ride inverts and rotates the rider, who should be secured in a harness, while the operator manually spins a control wheel. However, despite Fiesta Group providing training to some staff members, the ride was manned by untrained individuals. Ultimately, the client was improperly restrained and during the ride, fell head-first onto the steel flooring below the ride.

The next day, the client went to the emergency room, describing significant pain, where he was diagnosed with a spinal-joint fracture to the neck. During pre-trial negotiations, the highest figure offered was $7,000, so to secure a result the would meet his needs, the case proceeded to trial. While the first court case, unfortunately, ended with a mistrial, the St. Louis personal injury lawyers with The Cagle Law Firm were undeterred, eventually securing a jury verdict for $1.5 Million, which was more than twice the range of damages presented to the jury and found Fiesta Group 100 percent at-fault. In addition to being one of the highest value verdicts of its type in county history, this was even more significant, considering prior to trial the client had yet to undergo a required surgery for his injuries.

During Fiesta Group’s appeal, their attorneys alleged they should not be held liable at all since the trial court failed to find whether the client’s claim was barred by the assumption of risk. Essentially, they asserted that the ride itself was inherently dangerous and the client “knowingly and voluntarily” assumed the risk of riding. Unmoved by Fiesta Group’s argument, the court disagreed with their points, indicating the assumption of risk did not apply to this case and upheld the original verdict.

In a March 27, 2018, Missouri Lawyer Weekly article, Cagle Law Firm attorney Andrew Mundwiller stated, “We think the court got it right and the court of appeals got it right and so we’re happy…the case was entirely based on the client’s pain and suffering.”

The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

Passenger Settles for $1,250,000.00 in St. Louis City Motor Vehicle Crash

Plaintiff was a passenger in her 2009 Cheverolet Impala driven by Javante Vann.  While driving said vehicle, Defendant notice St. Louis Metropolitan Police offers attempting to detain him in a traffic stop. Vann testified that at that time he did not possess a valid license thus fled police at a high rate of speed and crashed into a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice that  subsequently crashed into a 1997 Mercury Sable at the intersection of westbound St. Louis Avenue and Newstead in St. Louis City.

Defendant pled guilty and  was convicted of resisting or interfering with arrest which resulted in imprisonment.  The conduct of the driver, Vann was subject to punitive damage for intentional, wanton, and total disregard in the operation of said vehicle.

Plaintiff, a back seat passenger was seriously injured and taken via ambulance to the hospital where she remained in neuro-ICU for several days with a brain injury.  Plaintiff sustained a frontal lobe brain injury and after hospitalization, she underwent rehabilitation. While in intensive care, Plaintiff had a pressure monitor introduced into her brain to monitor swelling.  Subsequently, she was released to rehabilitation and self-released after two weeks.  Plaintiff’s permanent injures were treated through medication and sporadic therapy after release.

Defense counsel argued if Plaintiff suffered a brain injury, then she had healed.  Also, Defendant alleged that Plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages as she failed to follow doctors’ orders.  However, Plaintiff’s counsel argued Plaintiff’s brain injury was ongoing and permanent in nature.

Defense had offered $50,000 to settle after suit was filed and settled the case for $1,250,000.00 with one week prior to trial.

Driver Receives $200K Settlement: Cooper County, Missouri

In November of 2013, Ms. Cook was at a stop sign on the exit ramp of Interstate 70 when she was rear-ended by Defendant Murphy.  The collision was significant in that it propelled her across the intersection.  Ms. Cook claimed neck, back and shoulder injuries. According to the petition, Murphy later pled guilty to driving while intoxicated during the accident.  Most of Plaintiff’s damages were neck related. Cook was represented by Andrew Mundwiller of The Cagle Law Firm.

According to Mundwiller from The Cagle Law Firm, “She did have a complicated medical history in that she had some prior complaints with the same area of the body”. He noted that the MRI did not provide evidence of disc injury and claimed Plaintiff’s compliant was primarily a muscle strain.  He stated that the defendants cited medical records noting that his client suffered from a work-related neck injury and fibromyalgia, both of which predated the accident.  Mundwiller said that her prior neck problems were minimal and seemingly resolved before the crash.  However, the Plaintiff may have to undergo future medical treatment such as “facet block injections”.

Initially, Mundwiller had offered to settle the case for the policy limit of $50,000.00 which was turned down.  However, later the defendants offered the policy limit which Mundwiller rejected.

“We felt the case had value in excess of 50 and I would do a disservice to my client by selling her short at that point,” said Mundwiller.  “I think they recognized that risk and did the right thing by taking care of it and not subjecting their own client to an uncovered judgment”.

Driver receives $200K settlement after Cooper County crash, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, May 1, 2017

Dump Truck Company Settles Crash for $750,000.00: Lincoln County, Missouri

Plaintiff was traveling southbound on Missouri Highway 47, and Defendant was driving a dump truck traveling eastbound on Route U. Defendant reached the intersection of Route U and Missouri Highway 47 then proceeded to attempt to cross Highway 47 and continue on eastbound Route U. At this time, Defendant’s dump truck entered directly in the path of Plaintiff’s motor vehicle. In order to avoid colliding with the dump truck, Plaintiff swerved, traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck an embankment.

Plaintiff alleged Defendant’s driver left the scene of the crash and returned thereafter in another motor vehicle because of the dump truck’s failure to comply with Federal Regulations. Defendant denied these allegations, stating their driver parked the dump truck very near the location of the crash.

Plaintiff was transported from the crash site to an area hospital via ambulance. Thereafter, Plaintiff underwent physical therapy and several injections to her lumbar spine. In January of 2016, Plaintiff underwent a lumbar spinal fusion/

Plaintiff alleged the Defendant failed to keep a lookout while operating his dump truck, and failed to yield the right-of-way to Plaintiff traveling on southbound Highway 47. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleged punitive damages against the Defendant relating to lack of supervision, training, and violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Defendant alleged Plaintiff was careless and negligent in failing to keep a careful lookout, stop, slow, or take evasive actions in reacting to Defendant’s dump truck entering the roadway.

The parties agreed to settlement prior to trial of the case. “We solved it really early in the case,” said Cagle according to the Missouri Lawyer Weekly, 5/1/17  “We did an initial demand on the case, they made an offer. We had some discovery disputes,” he said. “When the discovery disputes were resolved, prior to depositions, we reached a settlement agreement” said Cagle.