Auto Accidents (New Cases Added)

Susan L. Andrews and David Andrews

Robertson-Morrison, Inc. and Robert Bauer and Katherine Hughes as Guardian Ad Litem of James Vernon Hughes (a Minor)

Plaintiff Susan Andrews was the seat-belted, shoulder-harnessed driver of a 1992 Pontiac Transport Van on the morning of March 10, 1997. At approximately 10:00 a.m., she was traveling below the posted speed limit westbound on Geddes Road in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Coming toward her in the eastbound direction Defendant James Vernon Hughes was exceeding the speed limit in a stolen 1991 Ford F-150 truck. Mr. Hughes was 14 years old, without possession of a valid driver's license. Swerving in the road, Mr. Hughes failed to have control over the truck, failed to be operating the truck at a safe speed, and failed to bring the truck to a stop that would assure clear distance ahead. As a result, the truck struck the van of Mrs. Andrews, causing her permanent, life threatening injuries. Mr. Hughes had access to the truck because it was stolen from an unattended parking lot where Robert Bauer had left it unlocked, with the keys on the dash board. The truck was the property of Robertson-Morrison, Inc.

Susan Andrews sustained a severe closed head injury, brain injury with intracranial bleeding, which then caused a stroke, a fractured neck, a fracture orbital socket of the left eye, a fractured left femur, a fracture right fibula, a fractured right tibia, a fractured right ankle. Due to these injuries, she required several months of hospitalization for her to be stable enough just to return home for further rehabilitation.

Liability was attached to all three defendants, Robert Bauer, Robertson-Morrison, Inc., and James Vernon Hughes. Each Defendant owed the Plaintiffs an obligation to not act negligently, which would cause harm or injury to the Plaintiffs, in which they failed to uphold their obligation.

Susan Andrews Awarded: $1,050,000.000


Arlene Schneider and Earl Schneider.

Allied Disposal Company, Inc., a Michigan Corporation for Profit, and Matthew Wade Slocum.

On the morning of December 13, 1994, Arlene Schneider and her husband Earl left their house at 6:00 a.m. so Arlene could take Earl to work. They resided in Eaton Rapids, approximately twelve miles from Mason where Earl worked at Dart Container. Over the previous nine and a half years, Arlene drove Earl to work many times. This particular day, on her way back to the house, she stopped at an ATM to withdraw money for Christmas shopping at the Mason State Bank on Cedar Street.

After making her transaction at the bank, she turned right on westbound Columbia Highway to continue home. Columbia Highway is a two lane asphalt roadway with a 55mph speed limit with no street lighting, other than any light coming from homes or farms along the road.

Driving in clear weather, although it was very dark outside, she testified that she had her headlights on at low-beam. The vehicle she was driving was a 1989 Plymouth Acclaim, which was being operated at a speed of 45-50 mph. Moments after crossing the intersection of Columbia and College Road, Arlene was suddenly headed towards a 38,000 pound, dark blue Allied Disposal garbage truck, which was completely blocking both lanes of traffic. The truck had no lights on and no reflectors which would have allowed for Arlene to see the truck from a further distance away.

Prior to the accident, the driver, Mr. Matthew Slocum indicated that he had finished his route and was backing into the driveway of his last stop so he could turn around. He had misjudged his position and was unable to back into the driveway, so he then pulled forward with the entire length of the truck perpendicular to the east and westbound lanes.

Mr. Slocum testified that Mrs. Schneider's vehicle was halfway off the shoulder of the road and that the cab of the truck and its front tires were only halfway into Mrs. Schneider's lane of travel. The photographs taken the next day at the point of impact indicate that she was fully traveling in her lane of traffic, and the skid marks on the road indicate that the cab of the vehicle and its front tires were well over the center line of the roadway, well blocking both lanes of traffic. Also testifying falsely, Mr. Slocum said that there were reflectors on both sides of his truck, when the reconstructionist inspected the vehicle for reflectors and found none.

With no time to take any evasive action, Arlene slammed on her brakes as hard as she could within a few feet of the truck. There was no way for Mrs. Schneider to avoid the violent collision with the truck.

Arlene and Earl Schneider Awarded: $680,000.000

Auto Negligence Wrongful Death (New)
Injuries Alleged: Death
Name of Case: Doe v Governmental Entity

Court/Case No.: Eaton County Circuit Court
Name of Judge: Calvin E. Osterhaven
Jury Demand: Yes
Damages Awarded: $200,000. 00 Settlernent through Facilitative Mediation
Attorney For Plaintiff: Michael Thomsen (P42569), Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, P.C., 239 South Main Street, Eaton Rapids, Michigan 48827
Name/City of Your Experts: Thornas G.Bereza, Michigan State Police. Retired, Comstock Park, Michigan
Insurance Carricr: Self Insured Fund

The Plaintiff was killed while riding his bicycle along the shoulder of the road. Plaintiff's expert established that the operator of Defendant's vehicle failed to make proper observations before pulling away from where the operator was stopped at a stop sign. Also, that the Defendant's vehicle should not have been in operation give mechanical problems that rendered the vehicle unsafe to operate by creating blind spots. The Defendant claimed that the Plaintiff was negligent in riding his bicycle against the flow of traffic, even though he was on the shoulder of the road. The Plaintiff was a 65 year old single man who did not suffer any economic damages.

Auto Negligence: Spinal Injury (New)

Injuries Alleged: Cervical diskectomy with spinal fusion Permanent scarring
Name of Case: Deater v Hickmott Transportation, Inc.

Court/Case No.: Van Buren County Circuit Court (07-56-084-NI)
Name of Judge: William C. Buhl
Jury Demand: Yes
Damages Awarded: $675,000.00 Settlement through Facilitative Mediation
Attorney For Plaintiff: Michael W. Thomsen (P42569), Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, P.C., 239 South Main Street, Eaton Rapids, Michigan 48827
Name/City of Your Experts: Thomas G. Bereza, Michigan State Police, Retired, Comstock Park, Michigan
Insurance Carrier: Empire Fire & Marine lnsurance Company

The Plaintiff was injured while operating a semi truck on I-94 expressway. Defendant's semi truck rear-ended the Plaintiff's semi truck. The Defendant claimed that poor weather conditions caused an icy road surface that created a sudden emergency. The Plaintiff established through witness testimony that the slippery road conditions were not unexpected and that Defendant's operator was overdriving the conditions. The Plaintiff also received $20,000.00 in wage loss benefits and open medical benefits as a result of the settlement of a first-party no-fault action against the Plaintiff's motor vehicle insurance carrier.


Kevin Phillips.

Sandra Hartlaub.

On the evening of , Mr. Kevin Phillips was out walking his dog. During his walk, his attire consisted of reflectors that would alert an oncoming car to his position in dark hours. As he was walking, Sandra Hartlaub, driving intoxicated in the opposite lane from the side which he was walking, crossed both lanes with her Chevrolet Corvette and struck Kevin, seriously damaging his right leg. The woman claimed that she was adjusting the radio and that she had only had about eight ounces of wine before driving, but her blood alcohol level was much higher than what she claimed.

Mr. Phillips was taken to the hospital and surgery was performed in order to save his leg. Due to infection, it was necessary that his leg be amputated above the knee. This amputation require a complete remodeling of his entire lifestyle, accompanied by physical therapy.

Kevin Phillips Awarded: $500,000.000

Tort Spine and Pelvic Fractures (New)
Nov. 15, 1993

Type of Actlon: Personal injury.
Type sf lnjuries*: Fractures - elbow, spine and pelvis.
Name of Case: Richard L. Hendershott v. Ovid-Elsie Area Schools, Progressive ArchitectslEngineers/Planners, lnc. and Short's Roofing Company.

Court Case No.: Clinton County Circuit Court, No.92-6491-NO.
Name of Judge: Hon. Randy L. Tahvonen.
Trlal Verdlct or Settlement: Settled $583,500 as to all delendants.
Attomey for Plalntiff: Michael W. Thomsen (P42569), Nolan, Raincke, Thomsen & Villas, P.C., 239S. Main Street, Eaton Rapids,
Michigan 48827-1291
Name/Clty of your Experts: Steven L. Drayer, M.D., East Lansing, Ml; Vark W. Hinshaw, M.D., Grand RapiOs, Ml; Joseph Wrzesinski, DeWitt, Ml; Lindsay Hayes, Shelby Twp., MI; Anthony M. Gamboa, Ph.D., Louisville, Ky.
lnsurance Carrler: Hermitage lnsurance Company, While Plains, NY.

Plaintiff was injured while working as a construction worker replacing the roof over the Ovid-Else High School swimming pool. Plaintiff's experts established that the defendants had failed to maintain a safe workplace for the workers due to numerous safety violations. Plaintiff fell through the roof over the swimming pool and landed on the cement floor three stories below. Plaintiff was on the job site for the first time the morning of his fall approximately 8:30 a.m. He was not warned that the pre-existing roof was structurally unsound, nor were there any safety precautions taken to secure the unsafe area. The defendant-architect claimed it did not owe a duty to supervise job safety. The defendant-general contractor claimed the condition as open and obvious and that it did not owe a duty to the employee of a sub-contractor for job safety. The defendant-school district claimed that it was not liable for job safety as the owner since it did not retain control over the work being done. The case, which had mediated for a total of $565,000, was settled one week prior to trial.


Chad and Greg Bush.

Village of Spring Lake.

In 1985, the Village of Spring Lake commenced a traffic study of the intersection of Lake Avenue and River Street. Since the 1950's, a full traffic signal (red/yellow/green) had controlled the intersection. The Village hired Ed Swanson & Associates to conduct the study, and although Mr. Swanson claimed himself to be a civil engineer, he does not hold a Bachelor's degree or college degree of any kind and was not licensed by the state of Michigan at the time of the study.

At the conclusion of the study of the intersection, Mr. Swanson recommended four options, one being to replace the traffic signal with flashers with blinking red and yellow lights. Red lights for stopping the traffic on River Street and the yellow caution flashers for traffic on Lake Avenue. If this option was chosen, he recommended that stop signs be installed as well. The Village accepted this proposal, but never installed the stop signs.

In adopting the recommendation by Mr. Swanson, the Village failed to acknowledge the proposal of the Chief of Police, Leon Langeland. He suggested replacing the light with a fully automated, updated version of the red/yellow/green signal. Mr. Eric DeLong who opposed Mr. Langeland's idea never sent a copy of Mr. Langeland's memo to the committee which was studying the intersection, or to the Village Council who voted to implement the changes. At a public counsel meeting to consider the signal changes, Mr. DeLong took handwritten notes indicating that there should be no parking within 200 feet in either direction of the intersection. No sight distance study was ever performed, and upon removing the full traffic signal which required no sight distance, they replaced the signal with flashers, which do require sight distance. On top of this, the Village did not restrict parking, and allowed cars to park only twenty feet from the intersection.

On September 11, 1990, Chad Bush was driving his younger brother to school on his motorcycle. Chad was 17 years old and his brother Greg was 15 at the time. On their way to school they were traveling down Lake Avenue at a speed of 20-25 mph. The posted speed limit is 25 mph and both boys were wearing helmets. All eyewitnesses testified that there was nothing wrong with the operation of the motorcycle that could have been deemed improper, and it is undisputed that the headlight of the motorcycle was on.

Donna Rosenthal was traveling east on River Street, and she stopped at the intersection prior to the crosswalk. She was attempting to make a left hand turn onto Lake Avenue. There were many things obstructing her sight including a hedge, a utility pole, guide wires, a traffic signal control box, a post office box, a parked car and trees. She then pulled forward over the crosswalk and stopped a second time, although her view was still obstructed. She looked to her right and to her left and looked back to her left before she pulled out into traffic, not being able to see the boys on the motorcycle.

As soon as Chad saw the car, he tried to lay the motorcycle on its side to avoid a collision, but it was unavoidable. On impact, both Chad and Greg were thrown from the motorcycle into the side of the car. The impact broke their spines in the thoracic vertebras of the boys of T-4, T-5, T-6, T-7, T-8, T-9, and T-12 rendering them paraplegics with complete paralysis and loss of feeling from the nipple line down. Neither boy would ever have use of their legs or lower bodies again.

Chad and Greg Bush Awarded: $4,500,000.000.

Automobile/Intersection Design: Auvenshine v. M.D.O.T.

Colleen Auvenshine, Personal representative of the Estate of Kevin Morrow
(Deceased), and Randy Yeager, Personal representative of the Estate of Christopher Yeager (Deceased).

State of Michigan, Department of Transportation, A/K/A Michigan Department of Transportation (M.D.O.T.)

On the evening of September 5, 1989, Kevin Morrow and Christopher Yeager were driving in Christopher's Oldsmobile Forenza through an intersection in Eaton Rapids, commonly referred to as the "Y" intersection. At this intersection, M-99 and M-50 traffic converged in a very dangerous manner. There was a flashing yellow warning signal for northbound M-50 traffic and for southbound M-99/M-50 traffic, and there was a red flashing beacon for northbound M-99 traffic, with a warning sign that said "stop ahead".

As Yeager, the driver, proceeded through the intersection, a 33,000 pound semi-tractor and trailer struck the front portion of the side of his car, killing the driver and passenger, both 17 years old. A lawsuit was filed against M.D.O.T., and as evidence was presented to the court room experts and witnesses testified as to why the intersection was of poor design and not safe for public transportation. Experts such as Thomas Bereza and Donald Holmes provided enough evidence to prove that Yeager did not fail to obey traffic laws, and that many factors could have contributed as to why he pulled his car out into the on-coming traffic. The evidence that the truck did not have its headlights on and the angle from which the truck was coming, could have lead to a impaired ability to accurately judge the speed at which the truck was approaching.

The verdict in the case lead to awards for damages for both of the young men's families and an eventual reconstruction of the intersection by M.D.O.T.

The Estate of Christopher Yeager and Kevin Morrow Awarded: $1,400,000.000

Auto Negligence: Neck Injury (New)

lnjuries Alleged: Soft tissue neck injury
Name of Case: Davis v. lngham County Road Commission

Court/Case No.: lngham County Circuit Court, #93-76167-Nl
Name of Judge: James R. Giddings
Jury Demand: Yes.
Damages Awarded: $60,000 less $10,200 for 17 percent comparative negligence
Date: April24, 1996
Attomey for the Plaintiff: Michael W. Thomsen
Attorney for the Defendant: withheld. ,
Name/City of Experts: Faith Fritsch, D.O., Dewitt, Ml; V. Shearman Gilreath, D.O., Lansing, Ml
lnsurance Carrier: Seif-insured.
Hlghest offer: $2,500

This automobile negligence action arose out of defendant's dump truck driver having stopped his truck on the traveled portion of the roadway before shifting into reverse and backing over the plantiff's automobile. The dump truck driver testified that the first time at which he became aware of the plaintiff's presence on the roadway was when he saw
her car being pushed out sldeways from behind his truck as he happened to look in his side-view mirror. The plaintiff testified that the dump truck had pulled out from a side road onto the roadway directly in front of her, in plaln view, and that she had been following the dump truck at a safe distance, going only 30 miles per hour for at least a half mile. The defense maintained that the plaintiff had stopped too close behind the dump truck and was in the driver's blind spot. However, the defendant's supervisor testified that he did not want his drivers taking the time to get out of their trucks to check for vehicles that may be stopped behind them prior to backing up because that takes time and time is money. The defendant's driver could not offer an explanation as to why he never observed the plaintiff's automobile on the roadway at any time prior to the collision. The case mediated for $12,000 and was accepted by the plaintiff but rejected by the defendant. A tour-day jury trial resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $60,000, less $10,200 for 17 percent comparative negligence. Subsequent to the award of mediation sanctions and court costs, the case settled for $90.000.

Man Gets $1.6M in Suit Against Township (New)
Dec. 5, 2012
Crash with officer left him disabled
By Kevin Grasha

MASON - A man who sued the Lansing Township Police Department after he was seriously injured in a crash with a township police car has been awarded $1.6 million by a jury, his attorney said.

The verdict was reached Tuesday after a five{ay civil trial in Ingham
County Circuit Court before Judge William Collette.

The crash happened the afternoon of March 6, 2009. Carl Mennare was driving on West St. Joseph Highway when Lansing Township police Officer Brett Ramsden pulled his police cruiser out of his home's driveway and struck Mennare's car, according to Mennare's attorney, Larry Nolan.

Nolan said Mennare, now 47, suffered a permanent traumatic brain injury, lost his job and is permanently disabled.

Since the crash" Nolan said, Mennare has experienced constant headaches as well as sensitivity to light and sound "He's facing a lifetime disability that the doctors have termed incurable," Nolan said. "He will be referred to palliative care ... which attempts to manage the pain" but they can't ever make it go away."

An attorney representing the township police department did not return a message seeking comment. Police Chief Kay Hoffman also did not return a message. On the day of the crash, Ramsden had stopped at home during his shift, Nolan said.

The officer was backing out of his driveway, and according to Nolan said he was in a hurry to get behind a speeding vehicle, when he struck a Suzuki subcompact car driven by Mennare.

Nolan said Mennare was driving his wife to her job as a security guard and was traveling 35 to 40 mph.

"(He) had no chance to do any evasive maneuver," Nolan said, adding: "They weren't doing anything wrong. They were just driving along and all of a sudden, (Ramsden) came out of his driveway."

Mennare's wife was knocked out in the crash, but was not further injured. Both were wearing seat belts and the car's airbags deployed, Nolan said.

$'1.6M Award in Lansing Twp.
Police Suit May Be Adjusted

LANSING TWP. - One day after a jury awarded a man $1.6 million in a civil case against the Lansing Township Police Department, the township's supervisor released a statement saying she believes that amount will be reduced.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers said: "The verdict form award will be adjusted and reduced. This final amount is undetermined at this time, as additional information is needed to finalize the calculations."

An attorney for 47-yeiar-old Carl Mennare who a jury found suffered debilitating head injuries in a 2009 traffic crash involving an on-duty township police officer – agreed that the amount will change. Attorney Larry Nolan said it will go both up and down as various factors such as interest, attorneys fees, court costs as well as an allowance for Social Security money Mennare received are calculated. Nolan also expects the township to be sanctioned for rejecting a settlement during case evaluation and never making a "reasonable offer."