Jury Awards $3/4 Million to Prominent Former Public Defender
In his storied career as an assistant public defender, Pat McGuinness had received hundreds of jury verdicts, including one in a trial that was the subject of an Oscar winning documentary. But Pat had never been through a civil trial until he was involved in an accident with a drunk driver on his way home after one of those criminal verdicts.
When Pat ended up having arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist and shoulder, Pajcic & Pajcic told him he ought to get all the insurance money that was available ($25,000 from the drunk driver plus $300,000 of underinsured motorist coverage (UM) on Pat’s own policy).
To the surprise of Pajcic & Pajcic, Pat’s insurance company decided to offer only $60,000 and to defend aggressively. The defense introduced evidence that Pat himself had a couple of gin and tonics after the verdict in the criminal trial, but Pajcic & Pajcic proved that, while the defendant driver was criminally impaired, Pat was not.
The defense showed surveillance films of Pat using power tools after the surgeries on his right arm. However, plaintiff’s slow motion analysis showed Pat rubbing his injured shoulder, grimacing in pain, and having to use both hands to control his tools.
The defense hired its own radiologist and orthopedist who claimed that the accident had nothing to do with Pat’s shoulder surgery since he already had a history of pain and injections in that shoulder. The jury, however, accepted the testimony of Pat’s treating physicians and the radiologist retained by Pajcic & Pajcic.
Pat found the comparison between criminal and civil trials fascinating. Pat says the biggest difference is the impressive support system Pajcic & Pajcic had at trial. Like all good trial lawyers, Pat grew impatient sitting on the sidelines during most of the trial, but he found his own cross examination the most intriguing aspect of all. Pat must have done okay during that thrust and parry because the jury awarded $744,341.76 in total damages.
Pat says as much as he appreciated the monetary award, the sense of victory in the courtroom was even more satisfying.