Lumbar Fusion Damages: Jury Awards 32 Year Old Woman Only $75,000; Appeals Court Still Too Low at $225,000


Deanna Kmiotek was 32 years old on July 8, 2004, sitting in her car at a red light in hometown Amherst, New York when out of nowhere the town's dump truck carrying an 18 ton load smashed into the rear of her car. She was seriously injured and sued the town for her damages.

A judge ruled well before trial that the facts and fault were plain and that the issue of fault need not be addressed at trail; the only issue at trial would be the amount of damages.

Deanna sustained herniations in her back requiring surgery to fuse lumbar discs at L4-5 and L5-S1 with a bone graft from her pelvis and the insertion of two metal titanium rods and six screws. As a result, she could no longer work either at home or as a commercial cleaner and she could no longer pick up her children or give then baths.

The town offered $250,000 to settle before trial but the offer was rejected. In November 2007, an Erie County jury awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $75,000 ($35,000 past, $40,000 future). On appeal in Kmiotek v. Chaba, $75,000 was held to be unreasonably low and $225,000 ($75,000 past, $150,000 future) was found to be the minimum amount the jury could have awarded as a matter of law based on the evidence at trial.

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John Hochfelder on:

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