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Semi Truck Driver Obtains Successful Recovery In Missouri After Kansas Highway Accident Dispute Focused on Plaintiff’s Pre-Existing Conditions and Causation Claims

Court: Buchanan County Circuit Court

Case Number: 10BU-CV03836

Judge: Patrick Robb

Mediator: Jay Daugherty

Caption: Beverly Billy Smith and Theresa Smith v. Baisch & Skinner, Inc. and Estate of Floyd Mier

Plaintiff Attorney: James Montee, Montee Law Firm, P.C., St. Joseph, MO

Defense Attorney: Kent Bevan and Michael Judy, Dysart, Taylor, Cotter, McMonigle & Montemore, P.C., Kansas City, MO

Intervenor Attorney: Robert Wonnell, McAnany, Van Cleve & Phillips, PA, Kansas City, KS

Plaintiff’s Experts: Adrian P. Jackson, M.D. (orthopedic), Overland Park, KS; Shawn Zeltwanger, M.D. (pain management), St. Joseph, MO; John Ward, Ph.D. (economic loss), Prairie Village, KS; Dale Dalenberg, M.D. (orthopedic), Leavenworth, KS

Defendants’ Experts: Alan J. Parmet, M.D. (Occupational Medicine), Kansas City, MO; Gerald Miller, Ph.D. (economic loss), Kansas City, MO; Bud Langston (vocational capacity), Topeka, KS; Bern Boyett, M.D. (medical), Kansas City, MO

St. Joseph, Missouri truck accident attorney, James Montee has reached a settlement on behalf of his client for injuries received in a Wathena, Kansas truck accident.

On January 28, 2010, Billy Smith was driving a semi-truck westbound in the course and scope of his employment with YRC, Inc. on Highway 36 just west of St. Joseph, Missouri in Wathena, Kansas. Highway 36 is a 2-lane road with a single lane eastbound and westbound separated by a solid yellow centerline. A floral delivery van operated by Floyd Mier traveling eastbound crossed the center line and struck the semi-truck nearly head-on. At the time of the accident, Mier was in the course and scope of his employment with Baisch & Skinner, Inc. Mier suffered instant fatal injuries in the accident.

Billy Smith and his wife reside in Buchanan County, Missouri. The estate of Floyd Mier was opened in the probate division of Buchanan County Circuit Court. Baisch & Skinner is a Missouri corporation. On August 16, 2010, Billy Smith and his wife Theresa Smith filed a lawsuit against the Estate of Floyd Mier and Baisch & Skinner, Inc. in the Circuit Court of Buchanan County. YRC, Inc. intervened in the lawsuit on the basis of a subrogation claim after paying Smith’s workers’ compensation benefits.

Billy Smith, age 55, underwent cervical diskectomy and fusion at C6-7 in June of 2010. Mr. Smith was subsequently placed on permanent work restrictions of 30 pounds and as a result terminated from employment at YRC, Inc. Mr. Smith’s past paid medical bills were $43,000. At the time of the accident, Smith was earning nearly $60,000 yearly as a commercial driver.

Smith’s injury claim was complicated by his prior medical history. In 1995 he suffered an on-the-job injury to his neck and an MRI led to a neurosurgical consult. Surgery was offered and declined. In 2003 Smith again suffered an on-the-job neck injury and an MRI was obtained and treatment followed including a series of epidurals. Smith’s experts claimed that the 2010 motor vehicle accident resulted in a cervical strain which exacerbated his underlying preexisting condition and necessitated the subsequent neck surgery. The defendants’ expert opined that 90% of the plaintiff’s treatment was due to pre-existing conditions and his surgery would have been necessary during his lifetime even absent the 2010 accident.

The parties agreed to a settlement for $495,000 several weeks after participating in mediation.

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