Case Studies

$2M Verdict On $425K Offer: Deputy Hits Car Head-On

After the first rain of the season in Lake County, CA, a Sheriff’s Deputy accelerated too quickly on the water-slicked highway, lost traction, drifted into oncoming traffic, and smashed head-on with another driver traveling at 55 mph from the opposite direction. Jesse Chrisp, Esq., needed to magnify the level of pain and suffering his client experienced over the next two-and-a-half years.

The Plaintiff suffered a 100 percent displaced wrist fracture with comminution to the joint. His wrist would need to be pinned and undergo an open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) followed by a partial fusion. He also suffered a comminuted fracture to the talus in his right foot, which was not surgically repaired, and instead allowed to heal. However, because of the comminution, the bone healed asymmetrically, causing an impingement and imbalance for the Plaintiff.

Two-and-a-half years after the collision, the Plaintiff continues to have problems with his right foot and was eventually diagnosed with Subtalar Post Traumatic Arthritis. He also started developing post-traumatic arthritis in his adjacent wrist joints. His doctor said the Plaintiff would require a Subtalar joint fusion in three-to-five years, and a full-wrist fusion in 10-15 years.

The Defense argued against all future surgeries and claimed that any problems with the 31-year-old man’s right ankle were caused by naturally occurring "wear and tear" to his Subtalar joint. The Defense’s highest offer was $425K. Ten days before trial, Mr. Chrisp sent the Defense a final 998 offer for $999,999.99, but the Defense turned it down.

Mr. Chrisp needed jurors to understand the life-altering impact this collision had on his client by magnifying the damages he suffered in a way jurors would recognize and remember. We illustrated the Plaintiff’s wrist fractures, foot fractures, and the surgeries he would need to undergo as a result. We also added color to the Plaintiff’s CT scans and X-rays to familiarize jurors with the radiographic evidence.

The jury ultimately awarded Mr. Chrisp’s client a $2M verdict - a record-setting result in this rural Northern California county - after being presented with the following exhibits.

 

We used the illustrations during in the opening; direct exams with the treating orthopedist, podiatrist surgeon, and radiologist; and in our closing and rebuttal. The Color Diagnostic of the ankle fusion with the screw going through the foot sunk in the fact that this was a major injury that would change the way our client walked for life.

Jesse Chrisp, Esq., Law Offices of J. Chrisp, Clearlake, CA

Exhibit A: Wrist Fracture and K-Wiring

The first exhibit introduced jurors to the Plaintiff's initial wrist fracture, his k-wire fixation surgery, and his post-op condition.

The image on the left highlights the wrist fracture in realistic color over the Plaintiff's actual X-ray, grounding its credibility in radiographic evidence. The illustration in the middle shows how k-wires were used to temporarily fixate the displacement. The colorized X-ray on the right shows what the Plaintiff's wrist looked like after the k-wiring.

Exhibit B: Wrist Hardware Placement

After introducing jurors to the initial injury and wire fixation, this illustration walked jurors through key chapters of the hardware fixation procedure, which involved a metal plate being screwed into the patient's radius.

This may sound like a mundane surgery in words, but seeing what it actually looked like to have tendons to be pulled back, the radius rotated, and a metal plate drilled into bone added powerful context to the jury's understanding of this experience.

The wrist surgery exhibits also helped us with the past pain and suffering by demonstrating the step-by-step process as the surgeon explained what he had to do in each surgery. This helped the surgeries come to life in a way words alone would not have done.

Jesse Chrisp, Esq., Law Offices of J. Chrisp

Exhibit C: Future Wrist Surgery

After walking jurors through the damages and surgical procedures the Plaintiff experienced, the next illustration showed the future surgery the Plaintiff would need to undergo as a result of his condition.

Illustrating the Plaintiff's future surgery not only helped jurors understand what the procedure entailed, but also anchored the point that two-and-a-half years after this incident, this man continued to suffer.

Exhibit E: Ankle Fracture After the Incident

After establishing the pain and suffering in regards to the wrist injury, this colorized CT scan highlights exactly where and how the talus was severely fractured.

Exhibit E: Ankle Deterioration Years Later

Instead of surgically repairing the talus, the patient's doctor opted to let it heal on its own. Two-and-a-half years after the collision, the Plaintiff continued to have problems with his right foot and was eventually diagnosed with Subtalar Post Traumatic Arthritis. This colorized CT scan shows how the fractured talus deteriorated and was now disrupting the Subtalar joint.

Exhibit F: Normal Anatomy of the Subtalar Joint 

Once the jurors understood the bone fracture, we illustrated how that fracture severely disrupted the plaintiff's subtalar joint. 

We were able to get all the illustrations and Color Diagnostics admitted into evidence. The Judge specifically appreciated that the injury site color of red was not blood or gore to dramatize the injury, but instead red to highlight the injury site so the jury could better understand the injury.

Jesse Chrisp, Esq., Law Offices of J. Chrisp, Clearlake, CA

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