The Plaintiff worked as a gasoline tank driver and had years of driving experience, but it was while driving his Ford F150 to take his young daughter to school that he sustained severe spinal injuries. As he was exiting from the gated community where he lived, he came to a stop to let children pass who were walking to school. While waiting for the children to clear, the community gate closed on the plaintiffs’ vehicle. It had rained the night before and the gate was wet. While attempting to pull the wet gate off of his truck, the plaintiff’s hands slipped on wet bars causing him to twist and the gate to close on his back resulting in a lumbar back injury. The defense claimed the plaintiff had a preexisting degenerative spine, even though he had never before experienced low back symptoms. After failing conservative care, a spine specialist performed a three level laminectomy.
The case first went to mediation and the defense could have settled initially for $450,000, but instead made an unreasonably low offer. Attorneys Matthew B.F. Biren and Andrew G.O. Biren of The Biren Law Group then developed a mountain of evidence demonstrating the culpability of the defendant -- multiple failures by the gate’s maintenance company which caused the gate to malfunction; a properly maintained gate would never close on a vehicle while exiting and even if it did, it should have automatically opened on contact with the vehicle rather than staying clamped on it.
Over the course of the next year, the Plaintiff’s lumbar symptoms returned, only worse – he was beginning to develop neurological deficits. After again failing conservative care, the Plaintiff was left with no alternative other than fusing the three damaged levels. Before surgery could be performed, as a result of back problems and neurological deficits, his leg began giving away and he ultimately suffered a fall, injuring his neck, which would require a one level cervical fusion.
All surgeries were completed before the case was to proceed to trial. After the court made rulings on evidentiary motions that were very favorable to the Plaintiff, the defendant’s primary insurer, who had never offered even the $450,000 that would have settled the case early on, finally agreed to pay its policy. At that point negotiations began with the excess carrier and the case was settled for multiples of the original settlement demand; twice the amount any mediator had ever put on the case.
The Biren Law Group was determined to hold the defendant accountable, building their case and refusing to give up until justice was achieved on behalf of their client. Without the Firm’s expertise and determination, the Plaintiff would have been at the mercy of the defendant who denied accountability and liability.
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Senior Vice President, Client Services