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Harnett County jury awards woman $1.6 million in car crash case

David Donovan//September 3, 2015

Harnett County jury awards woman $1.6 million in car crash case

David Donovan//September 3, 2015

A Harnett County jury has returned a $1.6 million verdict in favor of a woman who suffered traumatic brain injury after a pickup truck slammed into her car, her attorneys report.

The plaintiff was waiting to make a left turn onto a highway in Lillington on the morning of Sept. 7, 2011, when the defendant driver approached her from the right driving a pickup truck that was towing a 3,000-pound generator. The driver lost control of his truck, crossing the center line and swerving into a ditch. He managed to drive the pickup truck back onto the road, but the generator slammed into the side of plaintiff’s car.

The plaintiff suffered a subdural hematoma—a localized buildup of blood between the brain and its outermost layer—in the wreck and had an extended period of post-wreck amnesia. She immediately developed problems with her memory, balance and cognitive abilities, her attorneys said. Her hematoma eventually resolved, but she continued to suffer from dizziness, fogginess, cognitive issues, balance problems, and forgetfulness. A neurologist and a neuropsychiatrist diagnosed the plaintiff with a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury and testified at trial that her symptoms were permanent.

The trial lasted one week and the jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching its verdict. Attorneys Philip Miller and Lauren Raynor of Raleigh and Thomas West of Lillington represented the plaintiff.

Miller said that, based on his research looking into vast verdicts in the county, he believes that the verdict, handed down July 31, is one of the highest ever awarded by a Harnett County jury. It was significantly higher than the amount the plaintiff requested or the highest amount offered by the defendants. He said he thought that the severity of the wreck, the sincerity of the plaintiff, and the detailed description of the brain injury by her treating neurologist were huge factors in the result.

“We were very pleased that the jury obviously believed that our client had a significant brain injury, notwithstanding the fact that to an outside observer she did not look or act injured,” said Miller.

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Amount: $1.6 million

Injuries alleged: Traumatic brain injury

Name of case: Michele Meyers Langdon v. Matthew D. Morse & Sandhill Contractors Inc.

Court: Harnett County Superior Court

Case number: 14 CVS 01524

Judge: Kendra Hill

Date: July 31

Demand: $485,000

Highest offer: $250,000

Special damages: $39,000 in medical expenses

Most helpful experts: Dr. Kapil Rawal, neurologist and Dr. Thomas Gualtieri, neuropsychiatrist

Attorneys for plaintiff: Philip Miller and Lauren Raynor of Raleigh and Thomas West of Lillington

Attorney for defendants: Tom Buckley of Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo in Raleigh

Editor’s Note: Information submitted for this story withheld the parties’ and defense attorney’s names. That information, part of the public record, was obtained independently by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.

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