Nick Rowley used his trial by human approach to win a $1 million jury verdict alongside Dylan Pollard in a case where the plaintiff had incurred only $5,000 in past medical bills. The verdict was unanimous.
Nick jumped into the case only days before trial. The mediator’s proposal had been for $60,000, which the Plaintiff agreed to but State Farm would not. State Farm’s largest offer was $26,000 by 998 after mediation. The plaintiff had responded with a $50,000 998 demand, which State Farm rejected. The defendant was represented by an experienced insurance industry lawyer who had been named State Farm’s Trial Lawyer of the Year. Liability was disputed until shortly before trial as there was no police report.
The plaintiff, a 43-year recently divorced mother of two, was in car crash while en route to her children’s school. The plaintiff complained of neck pain at the scene and was put in C-Spine precautions and transported by ambulance to UCLA’s ER. The plaintiff objected to the transport, stating she had to pick up her children from school and was fine and didn’t need to be evaluated. Upon arrival to the hospital, the plaintiff continued to resist medical treatment, ultimately walking out against medical advice. Her Glasgow Coma Scale was noted to be perfect as was her neurological exam. As such, there were no contemporaneous medical records to support the plaintiff’s claims of injuries. And the only complaint per the paramedics was neck pain. Further, when the plaintiff saw her family doctor the following day, the doctor noted she only had low back and neck pain and that she was neurologically intact, had no head trauma, no headaches, and did not lose consciousness at the scene. The neck and back pain resolved in 8 weeks and the Plaintiff was back to doing yoga and having no residuals but for a noticeable change in her short term memory. The first notation weeks after the collision of this was a physical therapy record where the Plaintiff noted a ‘foggy memory’. Concussions are often misdiagnosed and certainly misunderstood. And nobody would think that whiplash (an acceleration deceleration injury could cause a concussion). Furthermore, post concussion syndrome leaves long term residuals in 10-15% of patients.
Nick handled the trial from mini opening to closing arguments with the exception of two lay witnesses. He put the medical records in their proper context. He explained to the jury that the plaintiff’s conduct in the ambulance refusing medical care and at the ER were signs of combativeness, a tell tale sign of having suffered a concussion. The Plaintiff had a history of two past concussions which Nick used as an advantage explaining throughout the trial how the residual memory loss makes sense because she came to the collision with an unusually susceptible brain. Nick had no helpful radiological evidence as the brain MRI months later was normal. Through testimony from the defense neurologist, Arthur Kowell, M.D., Nick explained the limitations of MRI and the common misdiagnosis of concussions in emergency rooms and how patients with concussions are often irrational and refuse medical treatment. Also, Nick established how there was no true exam at the Emergency Room, and that no CT scan was done which could have shown bruising in the brain which would then not show up later on an MRI. Plaintiff saw a neurologist 3 times prior to trial who diagnosed post concussion syndrome and testing by neuropsychologist David Lechuga, PhD, showed memory impairment in 2 different tests. The defense also had the Plaintiff evaluated by a psychiatrist Dr. David Pastor and neuropsychologist Kyle Boone, PhD, both who called Plaintiff a malingerer. Nick and Dylan established the human story of change through lay witnesses, with the best witness being Plaintiff’s 17 year old daughter. Nick proved that despite the lack of hard medical evidence from the day of the crash, the plaintiff had suffered a concussion and had residual memory impairment. Despite the low amount of past medical bills, the plaintiff would endure a lifetime of memory loss, and what is more important than our ability to remember.
Most important, Nick stressed the plaintiff’s human losses, what it meant for her to no longer be herself. He explained to the jury the need for them to honor this victim and her loss. Nick’s human approach stood in stark contrast to State Farm’s attempts to smear the plaintiff’s character and paint her as a “worrier” and complainer who was exaggerating or faking her injury. The defense went through years of Plaintiff’s records with her therapist exposing her history of relationship problems, lack of self worth, anxiety and depression, and humiliate her in cross examination. Nick responded by calling Defense counsel out as a bully and despicable for doing that to a woman who has never blamed relationship problems or depression on the collision. Nick asked the jury to come back with a unanimous verdict that tells Leslie she is honorable. After reading its unanimous verdict, the jury foreperson echoed Nick’s theme, approaching the plaintiff in the hallway, giving her a hug, and telling her: “You’re honorable.” Every juror hugged the client after the verdict.
Nick served as lead trial counsel. Dylan examined multiple witnesses at trial. Of particular note, Dylan located liability witnesses, which was particularly challenging given the lack of a police report. Dylan’s devotion to the plaintiff, belief in the client, and commitment to secure her the justice she deserved was unparalleled.