Court of appeals orders new trial after woman breaks neck and is awarded only $2,114.11

In March of 2011, Plaintiff Gerri Thomas, a licensed practical nurse, was injured in an automobile collision when a truck driven by Defendant Nicholas Pisoni struck her while she traveled at approximately 40 mph. At the scene of the accident, she was placed in a neck collar and backboard for immobilization and transported to the hospital. Once there, it was discovered that the force of the collision broke the Plaintiff’s neck at the C-6 vertebrae. Plaintiff’s doctors ordered that she wear a hard cervical collar to allow the bones to heal. Unfortunately, Plaintiff experienced increasing pain and was first treated with steroid injections but eventually required surgery. Due to the injury, Plaintiff testified that she lost wages totaling over $9,400.00, out-of-pocket medical expenses of $4,467.00, and incurred medical bills of approximately $37,000.00.

After hearing all of the evidence, a Stark County jury awarded Plaintiff just $2,114.11. Of this amount, $700.00 was for lost wages, $214.11 was reimbursement for her cervical collar, and $1,200.00 was for pain and suffering. Plaintiff requested a new trial arguing that jury’s verdict was inadequate and contrary to both the law and the facts presented at trial. This request was initially denied but was later granted on appeal by the 5th District Court of Appeals.

The Appellate Court found that “[t]he jury’s award did not fully compensate [Plaintiff] and denied her justice.” Thomas v. Pisoni, 2015-Ohio-376, ¶ 35 (5th Dist. Stark). The court went on to state that the “jury’s verdict was inadequate because there was no evidence disputing the severity of the collision; no evidence, expert or otherwise, disputing the collision neither solely caused appellant’s fractured neck and subsequent surgery; nor disputing the collision resulted in limited life functions, pain and discomfort.” Id. The Court concluded that the damages award could not be reconciled with the “uncontroverted evidence” and was “against the manifest weight of the evidence.” Id. at ¶37. Let us hope that Ms. Thomas’ next trial fully and adequately compensates her for the injuries and delivers the justice she was denied at her first trial.