TAM Shareholder Carol L. Thomson and Associate Kathleen J. Johnson defended a personal injury trial in Denver District Court from March 21-25, 2016, in front of Judge Karen Brody. Plaintiff William Scholle was represented by Marco Bendinelli, Cameron Curry, and Hugh O’Sullivan.
William Scholle is a former baggage handler with United Airlines, Inc. On June 10, 2012, Scholle was driving a baggage tug for United Airlines in the baggage tunnels beneath Denver International Airport when he was rear ended by a Delta baggage tug driven by former Delta employee Daniel Moody. Scholle was 64 years old at the time of the accident. Mr. Scholle filed a workers’ compensation claim against United, and in January of 2014 a workers’ compensation division IME was performed and Scholle was assigned a 21% impairment rating. Though he never returned to work, United paid medical and wage loss benefits to Scholle until he retired on July 2, 2015, at the age of 67.
United Air Lines filed suit on June 5, 2014, against Delta and Moody alleging negligence by Moody and liability by respondeat superior on the part of Delta. UAL claimed a right of subrogation as to these benefits as against Delta and Moody as third party tortfeasors. William Scholle filed suit on June 9, 2014 against Delta and Moody alleging claims for negligence against Moody, negligence against Delta (based on respondeat superior), negligent hiring against Delta, and negligent supervision against Delta. The two matters were later consolidated.
Liability was admitted prior to trial. In pretrial disclosures, Plaintiff identified $286,084 in future medical expenses. At trial and over Delta’s objection, Plaintiff’s counsel changed that number to $930,000 in front of the jury, then had one of Plaintiff’s treaters testify to the accuracy of that number even though in pretrial testimony both counsel and the treater swore he had no knowledge of those amounts. The trial resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict on damages for which the jury awarded $1,538,738 to Mr. Scholle and against Delta, which included $1,038,738 in economics, $233,333 in noneconomic damages, and $266,667.00 in impairment damages. Delta filed a motion for new trial for both nondisclosure of damages, and based on Mr. Scholle’s counsel’s trial conduct both in front of the jury and in their candor toward the Court.
On June 21, 2016, in a rarity overturning a jury verdict the Court granted Delta’s motion for a new trial on all damages due to irregularities in the proceedings in light of counsel’s misrepresentations regarding damages, witness testimony, and the scope of pretrial disclosures. A copy of the Order is available here.