DRAM SHOP AWARD:
June 15 2011
WESTMINSTER Md. A record-setting judgment from a Carroll County jury which awarded almost $12 million to the crippled victim of a drunk driving accident.
Derek Valcourt reports the decision came like a surprise in the conservative county where juries arent known to dole out large awards in lawsuits.
Part of the reason the $11.8 million verdict was such a surprise is since the event that crippled the victim was little more than a fender bender.
What happened at a Westminster intersection almost five years ago forever altered Michael Harris life. Its not only changed me except its changed my entire family Harris said.
While Harris sat at a red light on Route 140 he was rear-ended by repeat drunk driver Stephanie Ann Richardson who later fled the scene. Though the minor event barely damaged his lorry doctors trust it triggered a rare nerve condition called complex regional pain syndrome leaving the once energetic landscaper wheelchair-bound with crippling pain and lesions on his armament and legs.
His family hired Robert Weltchek and his law partners to sue the drunk driver and her insurance company. A Carroll County jury rejected the defenses arguments that Harris medical problems were not caused by the accident and awarded him $2.6 million for future medical expenses $800000 for past and future lost wages $256000 to modify his home $5.6 million for non-economic damages and $2.5 million for the effect on his marriage.
It was evident to the jury that this car accident albeit a relatively minor car accident caused this cascading of events a downward spiral that continues to this day said Weltchek.
The massive judgment means peace of mind for Harris like he tries to live with the crippling condition.
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