Insurer loses bid to overturn jury verdict after head injury
Robin Lynn Cetrone filed a lawsuit against the woman who drove through a red light in Clinton County and T-boned her car. Cetrone was taken to the ER by husband and ultimately treated for a closed head injury, although no bleeding showed on a CT scan. Cetrone's three doctors confirmed that she had permanent problems as a result of the head injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance company sent her to an"Independent Medical Examination" by Michael Jakubowski, who claimed that she had suffered no significant injury.
Ultimately, case evaluators suggested a $52,000.00 settlement which Cetrone would have accepted but the insurer refused. The case went to trial where the jury arrived at a judgment of "serious impairment of bodily function" and awarded $100,000.00 in damages. Since the insurer had rejected the case evaluation, the judge also awarded sanctions in the amount of $80,000.00 in costs and fees.The insurer appealed, arguing that Cetrone had provided no "objective manifestation" evidence of her head injury and therefore her claim should have been dismissed and taken out of the jurors' hands. It also argued the sanctions were too high and the hourly fee of $400.00 too much. Lastly, the insurer argued that a prior shoplifting conviction should have been admitted by the judge in order to impeach Cetrone's credibility.
The appellate court rejected all of the insurance company's appeal claims. It noted that many closed head injuries are not objectively manifested radiographically and that the No Fault law does not require an objective manifestation of a head injury by testing; rather, it requires confirmation by a properly qualified physician that a closed head injury has occurred, and proof that the injury has impaired the life of the victim. The impairments in this case were objectively manifested "because they were perceivable from her actual symptoms and conditions een though her injury was not perceived by the CT scan at the hospital."