Vermont Jury Verdict Awards $43.1 million For Spinal Cord Injury

by Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
Contact

On June 28, 2013 a Chittenden County Vermont jury returned a $43.1 million dollar verdict in favor Dzemila Heco,  a 51 year old woman who suffered a C4-C5 spinal cord injury when her 1999 Dodge Neon was struck from behind at 35 miles per hour by another car while waiting at a red light.

The damage to Ms. Heco’s car was not particularly severe and she was wearing a seat belt, but her seat collapsed backward causing her to become unrestrained, resulting in this serious injury. The verdict was returned against Johnson Controls, which designed and manufactured the seats for Chrysler. Evidence at trial showed that Johnson Controls knew that the single-sided recliner mechanism on the seat was subject to failure in impacts of this kind and that Johnson had a patent for a two- sided recliner mechanism, costing an additional $7.16, which would not have failed.

What does this Vermont jury verdict mean for other serious personal injury claims ?

It is not unusual for a Vermont jury to return a verdict against a manufacturer in a “products liability” case like this one. What is unusual is the size of this verdict.  In the past, jury verdicts in Vermont have been lower than in many parts of the country, leading both plaintiffs and defendants to assume that a Vermont jury will not award eight figure verdicts in cases involving serious injuries-like brain and spinal cord injuries. This verdict upsets that assumption and has therefore received a great deal of attention in the Vermont legal and insurance communities. It has potential impact on all claims involving life altering injuries, especially brain and spinal cord injury claims.

The damages awarded by the jury included:

  • past medical bills and health care  ($621,171.33)
  • future medical bills and life care expenses ($26,522,032)
  • past loss of income ($355,024)
  • future loss of income ($1,247,935) and
  • past and future pain and suffering ($14,373,000). 

By all accounts,  a factor in the size of the verdict was Ms. Heco ‘s inspiring life story and strong character. She and her family lived in Bosnia before the siege of Sarajevo began in 1992. Her husband was killed in the conflict and Ms. Heco and her two sons escaped through the “Sarajevo Tunnel”  and spend six harrowing months in Croatia before being able to emigrate to the United States. Ms Heco worked three jobs supporting her family and did volunteer work before the accident.

Written by:

Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
Contact
more
less

Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!