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Connecticut Appellate Attorneys Leverage Complex Evidentiary Issues to Favorably Resolve Trucking Case

Simsbury, Connecticut partner Michael J. Dugan settled a difficult mediation on behalf of our client, an Iowa-based, over-the-road truckload service company that serves both short and medium hauls throughout the United States.

In this matter, the claimant/plaintiff, a 50 year-old coach and youth counselor, was injured when the defendants’ tractor-trailer collided with his car on the highway. Plaintiff claimed permanent injuries to his neck and back.

The matter proceeded to a jury trial in New Haven, Conn., and in February 2020, the jury returned an initial verdict in favor of the plaintiff for approximately $900,000. Though, combined with Offer of Compromise interest, judgment was entered against the defendants for more than $1.1 million. The defendant trucking company then hired Litchfield Cavo LLP in place of their trial counsel, and our attorneys assessed the prospects for appealing the verdict and handle the appeal.

Simsbury partners Michael J. Dugan and Kathleen (“Kate”) F. Adams, assisted by Chelsea Sousa, reviewed the trial transcript and trial evidence and identified several appellate issues before filling an appellate brief on behalf of the defendants.

In particular, our attorneys identified significant evidentiary issues that challenged the legal basis for the plaintiff’s claim for future economic damages, which represented the bulk of the damages awarded to the plaintiff. After filing the appeal, the parties proceeded to a mediation before a retired Superior Court judge.

It is very difficult to overturn a personal injury jury verdict on appeal, and Connecticut’s statistical appellate success rate is 20-25%. However, Mike, Kate and Chelsea were able to identify specific medical evidence that should not have been admitted into evidence which improperly influenced the jury to award a substantial verdict.

On the date of the mediation the total judgment, with post-judgment interest accruing, was $1.2 million. However, with the strong appellate arguments presented by our three Simsbury attorneys, the Plaintiff agreed to settle this litigation at mediation for $575,000—less than half of the total judgment amount.

Mike has tried numerous cases to conclusion before judges, juries and arbitrators in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He has been admitted pro hac vice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the state of Maine for defending lawsuits. Mike focuses his defense practice on consumer litigation, environmental matters, healthcare professionals, employment disputes, wage and discrimination claims.

Kate has extensive experience analyzing first- and third-party coverage, including claims for business interruption coverage. Her insurance coverage practice includes litigating a range of coverage issues under commercial general liability, homeowners and property policies, professional liability and automobile liability, as well as claims for bad faith, unfair insurance practices and extra-contractual liability. Kate handles complex insurance matters, coverage analysis and commercial litigation in both trial and appellate matters.

Chelsea’s practice includes commercial litigation, insurance coverage, general liability and medical professional liability. She represents and advises business owners, contractors, home and vehicle owners, insurance companies and medical professionals in a wide variety of litigation disputes. Chelsea has appeared in the Connecticut Superior Courts and has experience drafting amicus curiae and appellate briefs to file with the Connecticut Appellate Court.