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Jury awards St. Mary’s Co. woman $365K for car accident injuries

A St. Mary’s County Circuit Court jury has awarded $365,000 to a local woman from her insurance company for injuries she suffered in a car accident nearly four years ago.

The jury award for Sue A. Cropper includes $330,000 from State Farm insurance for pain and suffering, according to her lawyer.

Cropper was driving south on Kingston Creek Road near her home in California when she was struck by a car turning right from Myrtle Point Road, according to her lawsuit, filed in December 2013. The accident left the then-73-year-old Cropper with a broken sternum and a bruised heart, according to the complaint.

Cropper settled her claim against the other driver for $30,000, according to Philip H. Dorsey III, Cropper’s lawyer.

Dorsey said State Farm offered $20,000 and then $40,000 to settle its case prior to trial and then $90,000 to settle during the trial but Cropper wanted to continue with the litigation. The verdict, announced April 23 after a three-day jury trial, was large for a traditionally conservative jurisdiction, a fact Dorsey attributed to his “fantastic” client, who has been a lifelong State Farm policy holder.

“‘State Farm is there’ — well, it was there until the end this time,” said Dorsey, referring to the company’s slogan.

The jury of five men and one woman deliberated for an hour before coming back with its verdict. Judge David W. Densford denied State Farm’s request to reduce the jury award to $250,000, the maximum allowed under Cropper’s underinsured motorist coverage, according to court records.

Walter E. Gillcrist Jr., a lawyer for State Farm, did not respond to a request for comment. Gillcrist is a partner with Budow and Noble PC in Bethesda.

Said Dorsey, a Leonardtown solo practitioner: “I had good facts, a great judge, a worthy opponent, a fantastic client and a terrible insurance adjuster.”

Sue Ann Cropper v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Court: St. Mary’s County Circuit Court

Case No.: 18C13001980

Judge: David W. Densford

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff for $365,000 — $330,000 for pain and suffering and $35,000 for medical expenses

Dates:

Incident: July 31, 2011

Suit filed: Dec. 19, 2013

Verdict: April 23, 2014

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Philip H. Dorsey III of The Dorsey Law Firm in Leonardtown

Defendant’s Attorney: Walter E. Gillcrist Jr. of Budow and Noble PC in Bethesda

Count: Underinsured/uninsured motorist

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