September 2012 Verdict Update

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A Cattaraugus County jury awarded Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP clients’ Robert and Sharon Monette over $1.3 million dollars for personal injuries Mr. Monette suffered on February 5, 2009.  The award included $64,500 for past and future economic loss, $300,000 for past pain and suffering, $675,000 for future pain and suffering and $255,000 for Mrs. Monette’s past and future loss of consortium.  Together with additional stipulated economic loss and interest, the total verdict is in excess of $1.3 million.  In addition, the jury also found that Jim Ball Pontiac Buick GMC, Inc. was an owner or co-owner of the vehicle, critical for securing additional insurance coverage.

The case was tried by attorney Jeffrey A. Black of Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP.  What made this case especially challenging was that Mr. Monette had suffered a serious low back and right hip injury over 15 years before this car crash.  His prior injuries had rendered him totally and permanently disabled from work and suffering from chronic pain syndrome.  In the car crash, Mr. Monette suffered a cervical disc injury leading to fusion and placement of an artificial disc in his neck.  Unfortunately, the surgery did not cure Mr. Monette’s neck problem and he was left with extremely limited use of his neck and arms and with constant daily pain.  Mrs. Monette testified that she has been forced to become his nurse and act as both mother and father in the home.  All medical experts that testified agreed that his future prognosis was poor at best.

As a further complicating issue, there was a question as to who the true owner of the vehicle that struck Mr. Monette was.  Mr. Monette’s vehicle was struck while parked on the side of the road and summary judgment on the issue of negligence or fault was granted by the trial court.  Defense counsel argued that the owner of the vehicle was the daughter of Jim Ball Pontiac Buick GMC, Inc.  However, the jury ultimately concluded that Jim Ball Pontiac Buick GMC, Inc. was a co-owner or the actual owner of the vehicle.  At trial Jim Ball admitted that he had the title and registration to the vehicle and his daughter was not listed on the title.  In addition he admitted that Jim Ball Pontiac Buick GMC, Inc. loaned the vehicle that struck Mr. Monette to one of their customers pursuant to a written agreement.

This is believed to be one of the largest personal injury motor vehicle accident verdicts in Cattaraugus County history.   It was also attorney Black’s third jury verdict in Allegany or Cattaraugus County in excess of $1,000,000.00.