On July 15th, almost seven years after an automobile accident left Brian Murphy permanently disabled, a jury awarded the Fombell, Beaver County man $2.3 million in damages that will eventually exceed $2.8 million in delay damages.
Mr. Murphy was stopped at an intersection on October 16, 2003 when another man, Harvey Marenic, struck Murphy's vehicle from behind. The force of the collision sent Murphy's vehicle into the path of a tractor trailer. As a result of the impact, Mr. Murphy suffered a serious injury to his neck. Although Murphy did not seek medical attention on the day of the accident, he did decide to go to the emergency room the next day after the pain had set it and he began to feel tingling in his left arm. After an MRI showed serious damages, Murphy underwent a procedure on his neck called an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.
Preceding the trial, Mr. Marenic admitted that he caused the accident, but denied that the accident caused Mr. Murphy's neck damages. Mr. Murphy admitted that he had neck problems for as many as 15 years before the accident took place. Attorney Douglas Olcott, of Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., had Mr. Murphy's former employer testify in court as to Murphy's neck problems and how he worked relentlessly for over 17 years without missing time or complaining due to the pain.
At trial, Dr. Michael Cozza, the physician who treated Murphy after the surgery, testified that Murphy would no longer be able to return to his job as a mechanized sander operator at Armstrong World Industries. In addition to Dr. Cozza, Attorney Olcott called Mr. Murphy's three children to testify on behalf of their father and how the accident had been affecting his quality of life. In addition to Mr. Murphy's claim, his wife also pursued compensation for loss of consortium, which is the deprivation of benefits to a family due to injuries caused by another.
Swift justice abounded as it took the jury less than two hours to return the verdict for lost wages, pain, suffering, and loss of consortium. After the verdict came in, Attorney Olcott said "I'm pleased with the verdict and impressed with the compassion and understanding of the jury…they were able to see that this was a hard working guy, who loved his wife and children, and who just wanted to get back to work and live his life…He was sitting at an intersection one day and the next he was unable to work and his whole life changed." The awarded compensation collected by Mr. Murphy is one the largest verdict sums in recent history for a personal injury case in the region.