Verdicts & Settlements
Michael S. Morgenstern has won precedent-setting victories in courts throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area. Many cases have resolved in his clients' favor without ever reaching trial. The following are just a few of Mr. Morgenstern’s verdicts and settlements. Several cases are subject to confidential settlement agreements and so cannot be reported in full detail. In describing these case outcomes, prospective clients should know that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. We cannot guarantee similar results in all cases.
Auto Defects/Product Liability: $59.7 Million Jury Verdict
Prashant Kumar vs. Toyota Motor Corporation (Baltimore City, Md.)
Prashant Kumar, a 26-year old Maryland resident, was a passenger in a Toyota car when the Toyota was struck head-on by an oncoming car. Although Mr. Kumar was wearing his seatbelt, he had his seatback reclined. The impact of the crash caused Mr. Kumar to slide out from under his seat belt and his legs were crushed, resulting in amputation. Mr. Kumar’s friend, the driver of the Toyota, did not have his seat reclined and he walked away from the accident unharmed. A jury awarded Mr. Kumar $59.7 million finding that Toyota failed to adequately warn Mr. Kumar about the danger of riding with his seat reclined while the car was moving.
Pedestrian Accident: $6.75 Million Settlement
Mother and Children Struck in Crosswalk by Hit & Run Driver
A mother and her two children, while crossing a street in the crosswalk, were struck by a vehicle that had failed to stop for a red light. The mother and children were seriously injured. The driver of the vehicle fled from the scene and was later apprehended and arrested. Our firm closely monitored the criminal trial against the driver, who was found guilty and sentenced to prison. We then pursued the civil case and, ultimately, our firm negotiated a substantial seven-figure settlement that, not only compensated the family members for their injuries, but also, and most importantly, provided life-time medical care and special education for the two children.
MetroBus Accident: $3.35 Million Settlement (District of Columbia)
Mary Best v. Washington Metro Transit Authority (Metrobus)
Mary Best, a 64-year old Washington, DC, daycare center worker, had been waiting at a bus stop when a Metrobus driver lost control of the vehicle. The bus swerved into the building where Ms. Best was standing, pinning her in the rubble and crushing her legs. Our firm obtained a $3.35 million settlement on behalf of Ms. Best, which, at the time was the largest that MetroBus ever had to pay.
Premise Liability: $2 Million Settlement
Concert Arena Accident
A 19-year old construction employee attended an outdoor rock concert during which a large rain storm occurred. He, along with a large group of patrons, “body surfed” down a muddy hill, an activity that is popular among concert-goers whenever it rains at the arena. Unknown to the body-surfing patrons, the concert arena owner had installed a vertical overflow pipe to drain the water at the bottom of the hill. When the young man slid down the hill, his head struck the overflow pipe which had become submerged under the muddy rain water. He was seriously injured and now is confined to a wheelchair. By investigating the long history of concerts at this location, we were able to show that the concert arena owner knew that the hill would be used by patrons to body surf during rainy weather and that appropriate notice should have been posted about the newly installed overflow pipe.
Truck Accident: $1.9 Million Settlement (Policy Limits)
Diane Carrier v. Titus Trash Company (Montgomery County, Md.)
Truck Runs Red Light
Mrs. Carrier, a 58-year old woman, was broadsided by a 26-ton trash truck whose driver drove through a red light. She was comatose for a month and hospitalized for five months. She was unable to return to work as a bookkeeper. In addition to obtaining the trash truck company’s $1.9 million policy limits, we were also able to negotiate large reductions with our client’s health insurance company and medical providers. These savings helped to fund an annuity that replaced her loss of income.
Automobile Accident: $780,000 Settlement
Leon LaRue v. Margaret Smith (Maryland)
Passenger Injured When Driver Falls Asleep at Wheel
The Honorable Leon L. LaRue, former Chief Judge in the District of Columbia, was a passenger in a car driven by a friend who fell asleep at the wheel. The car ran off the highway, down an embankment and struck a tree. Judge LaRue spent three weeks in the hospital recovering from multiple injuries. By thoroughly investigating the resources of the driver, we were able to resolve the case for an amount far in excess of the personal car insurance policies of both the driver and Judge LaRue.
Hospital Negligence: $750,000 Confidential Settlement
Diabetic Patient Suffers 3rd Degree Burns (District of Columbia)
Our client, Ms. Earthyn Austin, was a patient at a local hospital and was being treated for complications of her diabetes. She said she was cold so a nurse filled a medical glove with hot water and placed it on her leg to keep her warm. In doing so, Ms. Austin sustained 3rd degree burns to her leg which required large skin grafts. We were able to recover for our client the cost of her medical bills and a large amount for her considerable pain and suffering. In addition, the hospital agreed to review its training manual and retrain its nursing staff on the special care of diabetic patients.
Automobile Accident: $750,000 Settlement
Watson v. Hoffman (Frederick County, Md.)
Car Runs Red Light and Broadsides Young Woman
A 33 year old woman was broadsided by another vehicle whose driver drove through a red light. After being extricated from her car by emergency personnel, she was transported by helicopter to a shock trauma center where she remained in patient for a week. She was later transferred to a rehab facility where she stayed for 2 weeks. Our client’s head injuries required an additional surgery to repair a skull fracture near the inner ear which was causing her considerable dizziness and hearing loss. Thankfully, our client made a good recovery and was able to return to the workforce. Our firm was able to negotiate a settlement and set up the funds in an annuity that would provide her with life-long medical and vocational care.
Pedestrian accident: $590,000 Settlement
Joyce Pulphus v. Just Temps, Inc. (Baltimore County, Md.)
Highway Construction Worker Struck by Car
Our client, Ms. Joyce Pulphus, was a 45 year old highway construction worker who was working in the median of Route 295 near Route 695 in Anne Arundel County, MD, when a chain reaction accident was caused by a rental van. Ms. Pulphus was struck by a vehicle which was hit by the rental van forcing it to swerve into the median where Ms. Pulphus was working. She sustained serious injuries including a fractured femur. From TV footage, our firm was able to locate the rental van and a large insurance policy. In addition, we processed and coordinated Ms. Pulphus’ workman’s compensation benefits at the same time negotiating a substantial settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Ms. Pulphus was assured of the funds necessary to sustain her during her long convalescence.
Interstate Bus Accident: $490,000 Settlement
William Trautwein v. Peter Pan Bus Co. (District of Columbia)
William Trautwein was a passenger on a Peter Pan Trailways bus travelling from New Jersey to Baltimore. The bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and the bus crashed along I-95. Despite having to be pulled from the wreckage, Mr. Trautwein suffered non-life threatening injuries and was not seen by a doctor until 3 days after the accident. Notwithstanding, we obtained a significant settlement on his behalf.
Bicycle Accident: $300,000 Settlement (Policy Limits)
Cyclist Injured When Parked Motorist Opens Car Door (District of Columbia)
A cyclist was biking on a street in Georgetown when the driver of a parked car suddenly flung open his car door. The cyclist was unable to stop in time and hit the open car door. The impact caused the cyclist to fly over the car door and he broke his hand and pelvis. Our firm was able to obtain the total of insurance coverage on behalf of our client which helped pay for his medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and damage to his bicycle.
Hospital Negligence: $250,000 Settlement (District of Columbia)
Post-operative Patient Falls from Bed
Our client was an 82 years old patient at a local hospital who was recovering from surgery. Immediately after leaving the post-op area, our client was taken back to her room and transferred to a bed. The nursing assistant failed to raise the bedrail and our client fell from the bed fracturing her back. In addition to recovering a substantial settlement for our client, the hospital agreed to review its policy of hiring part-time nursing assistants.
Hospital Negligence: $250,000 Settlement
Patient Dropped During Transfer from Chair to Bed
Our client was a patient at a local hospital and was being transferred from her hospital room chair back to her bed by a nursing assistant. The nursing assistant was unable to hold on to our client and, as a result, dropped her to the floor, fracturing her leg. During settlement negotiations, our firm brought in a nurse expert to describe the standard technique for transfer of a patient and how the nursing assistant violated that standard. We were able to recover $250,000 for our client and the hospital agreed to review their employees’ training and education for patient transfers.
Motorcycle Accident: $250,000 Settlement
Motorcyclist Injured By Motorist Making U-turn (District of Columbia)
The driver of a car pulled to the side of the road in order to make a U-turn. She neglected to see an approaching motorcyclist and pulled out in front of the motorcyclist, who then crashed into the side of her car. Our client sustained a leg injury and was treated at a local hospital and released. When he continued to complain of severe leg pain, we arranged for our client to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor immediately recognized that his pressure and pain were the symptoms of compartment syndrome, a serious condition that required emergency limb-saving surgery. Not only were we able to help our client obtain prompt medical attention but we were also able to recover a significant settlement on his behalf.
School Bus Accident: Confidential Settlement
Runaway School Bus (Fairfax, Va.)
To run an errand, a school bus driver left his bus filled with children – and left the engine running. The school bus began to roll down a hill, picking up speed. An 11-year old boy was seriously injured during the incident. Had it not been for his 14-year old brother, who jumped into the driver’s seat and stopped the bus, more children would have suffered injuries. We were able to recover a substantial sum for the boy and set up the funds in an annuity from which he will benefit for the rest of his life.
Pedestrian Accident: Confidential Settlement
Tour Bus Hits Pedestrian at Street Festival (Anne Arundel County, Md.)
A father took his young children to observe an annual holiday street festival. There were over 20,000 people at the event. Along with dozens of other pedestrians, our client crossed a street. As he stepped up onto the curb of the sidewalk after crossing the street, a tour bus rounding the corner “clipped” the father with one of its back tires, pulling him down and running over him. The father suffered catastrophic injuries, requiring him to be flown to a trauma center for specialized surgery to save his leg. The bus company argued that our client had “assumed the risk” by failing to cross the street at a crosswalk, despite the fact that huge crowds of festival attendees were walking in the street. After lengthy litigation, we were successful in obtaining a substantial settlement for our client.
Premise Liability: Confidential Settlement (District of Columbia)
Special Susceptibility to Fracture (Osteogenesis Imperfecta)
Our client, a 14 year old girl, suffered from a congenital condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta. Her bones were brittle and easily broken. Because of the negligence of a maintenance crew, water was left on the floor of a commercial building. Our client fell and fractured several bones including her femur. Our settlement helped fund her plans for college.
Bicycle Accident: Confidential Settlement
Crompton v. USAA Insurance Co.
Cyclist Struck by Hit and Run Driver
A medical doctor riding his bicycle to work at NIH was struck by a pickup truck making a left hand turn. Because of fractures to his hand, our client was not able to return to work in the emergency room. The driver who caused the accident fled the scene. We were able to pursue the claim for injuries with the doctor’s own car insurance company including his sizable lost wage claim.
Bicycle Accident: Confidential Settlement
Car Tries to Overtake Cyclist at Light
A cyclist and a car both came to a stop at a traffic signal. When the light turned green, the driver attempted to beat the cyclist by accelerating to 20 mph. In doing so, the driver veered into the cyclist and the cyclist was thrown off his bike and landed on the road. By interviewing witnesses, our firm was able to assist the local police department in determining the driver of the striking vehicle. An accident between an accelerating car and a bike almost always means that the cyclist sustains considerable injuries. Here we were able to recover for our client his medical bills, lost wages and a large amount for his considerable pain and suffering.
Bicycle Accident: Confidential Settlement
Tonya Nansel v. Defendant Driver
Cyclist Hit in Crosswalk
A cyclist was crossing an intersection at the crosswalk when she was hit by a car making a right turn. The driver failed to see the cyclist. Our client suffered facial, head and leg injuries. She was a research scientist commuting to NIH to begin her work day. Our client faced no recovery based on the state of Maryland bicycle law prohibiting riding on sidewalks. By researching this issue, we were able to locate Montgomery County exception to the State law there-by permitting our client to recover for her injuries as well as permitting her to be reimbursed for her torn clothes and damaged laptop.