Last week, Colorado Trial Attorney Chad Hemmat won a large verdict worth more than a million dollars in the Denver District Court. Hemmat’s client was a 44 year-old data analyst who was crashed into by a sales representative from Anheuser-Busch in 2011.
The favorable verdict is even more miraculous when you consider that the case almost never made it to trial. Just months before her scheduled trial, the local law firm that had represented Nicole D. for years scheduled a meeting with her. Nicole thought that she was going to meet with her trial lawyer to discuss trial strategy, witness selection, or other trial issues. Instead, the brief meeting had another purpose. The lawyer told Nicole that her chances of prevailing at trial were bleak at best. The lawyer explained that even though Nicole had recently undergone a second back surgery (and a wrist surgery), which she believed to be the result of the high speed car crash, the lawyer felt that the case could not be won at trial.
Nine months before the 2011 crash, Nicole strained her back lifting a television. Before the crash, Nicole only went to one doctor visit for her minor back strain and the pain resolved quickly. Nevertheless, the hired doctor for the giant beer company wrote a report claiming that Nicole’s back pain and surgery were caused by the lifting of the TV rather than the motor vehicle crash. Nicole’s lawyer explained that despite his best efforts to reach out to Anheuser-Busch’s legal counsel, the beer company was not interested in settling her case. Nicole’s lawyer explained that since he could not settle her case and did not feel like he could win the upcoming jury trial, he had decided to quit the case. Nicole was stunned.
The lawyer suggested that Nicole consult with another law firm in town for a second opinion. Within days, Nicole scheduled a meeting with a second law firm. The downtown lawyer that met with Nicole was at least 15 years younger than her. After talking to Nicole for only 20 minutes, the lawyer told Nicole that she was wasting her time and that she should simply give up. Strike two!
For the next several weeks, Nicole walked around in a haze. She knew that the minor back strain she suffered from lifting the television had resolved months before the car crash. She also knew that her doctor (who saw her after both the TV lifting incident and the car crash) believed so too. She also did not understand why all of the lawyers were so convinced that she did not have a good personal injury case.
In late March 2015, with her first lawyer’s motion to withdraw as counsel looming (which, if granted, would leave her without an attorney against a powerful corporation), Nicole decided to contact one more attorney. She called and spoke with Chad Hemmat. Nicole’s sister-in-law was a friend of Hemmat’s wife. Nicole began the telephone call by saying, “Mr. Hemmat, all of the attorneys keep telling me the same thing and if you agree with them, I’m simply going to give up on my case.”
Days later, Nicole brought her entire file to Mr. Hemmat. The file was huge and she brought it into the Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn's Denver Tech Center Office on rollers.
Hemmat spent three days reviewing the file. Sure enough, Hemmat found the records from Anheuser-Busch’s hired doctor with the finding that Nicole’s back injury was caused by lifting the TV. Hemmat then reviewed the record from the one medical appointment that Nicole went to before the crash with Dr. Knight, a local pain specialist. In the record, Dr. Knight noted that Nicole was suffering from back pain that radiated down her legs. But, the record also showed that Nicole was invited to return for a follow up with Dr. Knight if her pain persisted. Nicole did not return for a follow up visit because her back pain resolved quickly. Also, Dr. Knight prescribed anti-inflammatory medication for 30 days. Nicole did not request any refills. It is also important to note that Nicole did not seek any other treatment for her back in the nine months before the car accident. Lastly, Dr. Knight noted in the record that Nicole had worked for the last five months with a personal trainer. Hemmat wondered whether Nicole had, by chance, ever returned to her personal training regimen after the TV incident, but before the car crash.
After reviewing her file, Hemmat met with Nicole again. Nicole confirmed that after the TV lifting incident, her back pain only lasted a week and she HAD returned to her personal training regimen. She trained three times a week with a personal trainer named Jessica, who had since moved out of state.
Hemmat located Jessica, the personal trainer, in Boise, Idaho. Jessica remembered training with Nicole from 2010-11. She remembered that Nicole was unable to train, for at most, a couple of weeks after the TV lifting incident. But, Jessica also clearly remembered that Nicole resumed training without limitation within just a couple of weeks thereafter and trained three days a week for the next eight months, right up to the day before the car crash. No attorney before Hemmat ever talked to Nicole or Jessica about this, even though trial was now just months away.
Hemmat next met with Dr. Karen Knight. Dr. Knight was the physician who treated Nicole both for the TV lifting incident and for the injuries Nicole suffered in the car crash. Dr. Knight sent Nicole for a low back MRI that showed a post-collision herniated disc. Dr. Knight, who had also never been contacted by Nicole’s prior attorneys, believed that Nicole’s post car crash back pain was axial back pain that was entirely different and more serious than the back strain caused by the TV lifting incident. Dr. Knight’s opinion was that the car crash caused Nicole’s back injuries and the subsequent years of treatment she had to endure, including multiple surgeries.
Hemmat had heard enough.
On October 13, 2015, Hemmat began the jury trial that almost never was. During the trial, the jury got to see Nicole’s pre and post car crash medical treatment timeline, as well as her personal training schedule. The jury also got to hear the testimony of Dr. Knight, which included a thorough explanation of why Nicole’s injuries and subsequent surgeries were caused by the car crash.
On Friday, October 16, 2015, after deliberating for five hours, the jury rendered a verdict in Nicole’s favor against Anheuser-Busch. With interest that is required to be paid, the verdict amounts to slightly less than $1,200,000.00.
Nicole and her family personally thanked Hemmat for being the first attorney in the four years since the car crash to actually listen to what Nicole had to say and to fight for her.
Anheuser-Busch and their attorneys are currently contemplating an appeal. However, because of the size of the verdict, while the corporate giant considers their next move, they owe Nicole interest that will continue to accumulate at a rate of nearly $8,000 per month.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we applaud Nicole for her courage in standing up to Anheuser-Busch, a large corporation, and for demanding fair compensation for her car accident injuries. It would have been easy for Nicole to listen to all of the other attorneys and give up on her million dollar case. However, by working together, Hemmat and Nicole were able to defy the naysayers and win the case. We hope that Nicole’s story will encourage other victims to stand up for their rights. If you've been injured call us at 303-782-9999 or start your free injury case evaluation now.