Most Effective Lawyers - 2011 - Personal Injury Two Guided Legal Team to $33M Award for Quadriplegic

Most Effective Lawyers - 2011 - Personal Injury Two Guided Legal Team to $33M Award for Quadriplegic

Posted By The Daily Business Review | 12-Dec-2011

It was the last day of 2008 and the last time Manos Milien would walk.

Milien, now 62, a backseat passenger in a Toyota Corolla, was left a quadriplegic when the sedan was rear-ended by a minivan on I-95 in Deerfield Beach.

There was no disputing the driver, Wendy Whitney of Jacksonville, was distracted when she rammed the Corolla at about 75 mph. She had a 2-year-old child in a safety seat, but she never explained to jurors just what kept her eyes away from the road.

Plaintiff attorneys Stephen Malove and Scott Henratty were concerned with the degree, if any, to which the defense might succeed in shifting the blame.
“They were arguing that out client was not wearing a seat belt and that all of his injuries were a result of that,” Malove said.

He insisted Milien was wearing his belt while noting state law at the time did not require backseat passengers to buckle up. Even if Milien was not wearing his belt, Malove argued the collision was so strong it would not have made a difference.

Arguing a case for a quadriplegic presented special challenges, Malove said. The legal team had to assemble expert witnesses in the fields of biomedical engineering, accident reconstruction, neurosurgery, rehabilitation and economics.

“We spent many hours flying around the country taking depositions. Cases like this are quite expensive to prosecute. For us, it was close to $300,000” he said.

Milien ‘s life at the institute was recorded on video for the jury.

“They brush his teeth, lift him with a crane out of the bed to take him into the bath where they basically hose him down. It’s so demeaning to be a grown man and to have to have your diapers changed or to have somebody feed you. He can do nothing all day but stare at the world around him,” Malove said.

Scott Henratty, the junior partner, handled some damage experts and damage witnesses. He also gave the closing rebuttal.

Malove handled other damage experts and witnesses, jury selection, and opening and closing statements.

The case suffered one setback due to juror misconduct. A trial in June 2010 quickly ended a mistrial. The second trial started the following October and ended in November.

Jurors awarded Milien $33.1 million but found him 5 percent liable, leaving an award at final judgment of $31.45 million plus costs. His attorneys never learned what accounted for the 5 percent assignment of liability but praised the jury.

“The jury was very attentive throughout this entire trial,” Malove said. “They asked a lot of questions.”

Whitney filed a notice of appeal, but no briefs have been submitted to the 4th District Court of Appeal.
Categories: In the News