Hartford Jury Awards Man $202,000 for Spinal Injury in Crash

The Liberty Mutual Insurance world headquarters building, located in Boston,.
The Liberty Mutual Insurance world headquarters building, located in Boston,.

The Liberty Mutual Insurance world headquarters building, located in Boston. Photo: User54871 via Wikimedia Commons

A Hartford Superior Court jury has awarded $202,000 to a New Britain man who suffered a spinal disc protrusion after his car was sideswiped in 2014.

A six-person jury deliberated 95 minutes late Wednesday before rendering the verdict against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. and in favor of 59-year-old John Logan for $52,000 in economic and $150,000 in noneconomic damages.

Logan's attorney, Robert Dunne, a senior associate at Hartford's Hersh & Crockett, said the plaintiff injured his head, neck, lower back and right arm after the Dodge Caravan he was driving was hit in Farmington by a car driven by Brandon Butler of Plainville. Butler, who was attempting to pass Logan on the left side, was issued an infraction for improper passing and driving without insurance. An amended lawsuit was filed Dec. 3 in Hartford Superior Court.

Logan was reportedly tossed around the car and struck his head on the driver's side window. He was wearing a seat belt, Dunne said.

Since Butler was driving without insurance, Dunne sued his insurer, Liberty Mutual, for his full $250,000 policy for uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Logan had suffered a prior job-related injury to his lower back in 2003, along with two other car accidents, Dunne said. Liberty's attorneys argued during trial that there was no way to prove Logan's injuries, primarily the main ones to his neck and lower back, were caused exclusively by the 2014 accident, according to Dunne.

A workers' compensation back injury occurred while Logan was removing equipment from a machine, Dunne said. That injury included a herniated disc requiring partial surgical removal. The 2014 car accident resulted in a disc protrusion in his lumbar spine, Dunne said, but require no surgery.

"My biggest obstacle during trial was that my client had these other car accidents and a worker's comp injury," Dunne said. "Their doctor, neurologist Kishore Ranade, told the jury that you could not really say the lower back injury was related to the 2014 accident."

Ranade's argument was countered by Steven Beck, the pain management doctor for the plaintiff.

"Dr. Beck gave Mr. Logan a 10 percent disability rating to his neck and lower back because of the 2014 accident," Dunne said. "He said the main injuries my client suffered were from the 2014 accident. My client did not get treatment following the other two car accidents" in 2015 and 2017, Dunne said.

Dunne said Logan and his wife Bozena also testified at trial, telling the jury his life "was essentially ruined. He admitted he was disabled, but said what little he was able to do completely stopped after the 2014 accident."

Logan's wife testified "he was still taking part in things with the family after his 2003 workers' comp injury. He was doing lawn work and snow blowing and doing things with his son. That all changed after the car accident." Butler did not testify.

Dunne said his client underwent three rounds of physical therapy and pain-management injections every six weeks, which will continue for the rest of his life. He said Logan has incurred $56,204 in medical expenses to date.

The defense has until Dec. 26 to appeal the jury verdict to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Thomas Mullaney III, of Meehan, Roberts, Turret & Rosenbaum, represented Liberty Mutual. He declined to discuss the case Friday.