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$2.2 Million Verdict in Baltimore Arising From Tractor-Trailer Accident

A Baltimore jury awarded $2.2 million* to a 50-year-old woman who was injured in a chain collision on Interstate 70 when a tractor-trailer failed to come to a stop and struck a line of vehicles that had stopped in front of it.

Mark W. Tanner and Ezra Wohlgelernter represented Margery Strain, who was injured in the accident on Interstate 70. At the time, Ms. Strain had stopped her vehicle in traffic, as the vehicles in front of her and behind her stopped; however, a tractor-trailer driven for UPS Ground Freight, Inc., failed to appreciate that traffic had slowed and stopped at the time, and crashed into the vehicle behind Ms. Strain, pushing it into her car. Ms. Strain sustained injuries to her shoulder, back and neck, resulting in a shoulder surgery, pain management treatment for soft tissue injuries in her back and neck and, ultimately, she underwent surgery to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted.

The defense contended that Ms. Strain was not as injured as she claimed, showing the jury videotape from surveillance that had been conducted on her over the course of the month before trial, and also calling several witnesses to testify that she allegedly claimed, at the emergency room, that she was going to “bring a big lawsuit against UPS.” Additionally, the defense claimed that her injuries were not from the accident, but rather stemmed from two unrelated car accidents, a fall on her stairs and a slip on the ice. The defense also contended that the accident was unavoidable, as it was a “sudden emergency,” which prevented the tractor-trailer from stopping in time.

After seven days of trial, the jury returned a verdict of $2.2 million, reflecting damages for lost earnings and earning capacity, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Plaintiffs presented evidence from two of Ms. Strains’ treating physicians, including her primary care physician, Susan Brinkley, M.D., and a pain management physician, Scott E. Brown, M.D., from Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. Plaintiff also presented testimony by way of videotape from Ms. Strain’s treating orthopedic surgeon, Barbara Rothen, M.D. The defense presented testimony from a number of lay witnesses, as well as an orthopedic surgeon, William Smulyan, M.D. The highest offer from the defense prior to the verdict was $450,000.

*Attorneys Tanner and Wohlgelernter handled this case on a pro hac vice basis, which is when lawyers not licensed in a particular state associate with a lawyer who is licensed in that state and obtain the court’s permission to jointly represent a client in a specific matter.