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Jury awards $1.23M to Westminster man knocked out of wheelchair

A Carroll County Circuit Court jury has awarded more than $1.2 million to a Westminster man who fell out of his wheelchair in the back of a medical transport vehicle after the driver failed to strap him in properly.

James L. Henderson was being driven by Butler Medical Transport to his home from a local senior center in March 2015, the lawsuit states. He had been wheelchair-bound since suffering a stroke many years before that paralyzed his left side, the lawsuit states.

When the driver took a sharp turn and hit a snowbank, it threw Henderson out his wheelchair and onto the floor of the van, tearing his right rotator cuff, the lawsuit states.

Coupled with Henderson’s stroke, it was “a devastating injury to him,” said his attorney, Richard H. Offutt Jr. Because of Henderson’s health, doctors were unable to perform any surgery to repair the rotator cuff, Offutt said, preventing Henderson from doing basic activities.

After a three-day trial in June, the jury awarded $1.23 million for Henderson’s future medical expenses.

“They were thrilled of course,”  said Offutt, of Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad LLP in Westminster.” They were very pleased with it, as was I.”

Offut said he believes the jury, which was all men, was swayed by his client’s case because they empathized with Henderson and his wife, Dorothy.

“It was that kind of case where he had put his trust in a business that didn’t do what it was supposed to do,” Offutt said. “I think they were angry at the defendant and they certainly empathized with the plaintiffs.”

The jury deliberated for two-and-a-half hours, he said. The jury, in an unusual twist, did not award any money for pain and suffering. Butler Medical filed a motion for a new trial on that basis, which was denied.

Defendant’s attorney Danielle D. Giroux of Harman, Claytor, Corrigan & Wellman in Alexandria, Virginia, did not respond to a request for comment.

There were no serious settlement offers on the table, Offutt said, much to his surprise.

“We would have taken less,” he said.

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James L. Henderson, Jr., et. al v. Butler Medical Transport, LLC        

Court: Carroll County Circuit

Case No.: 06-C-17-073710

Judge: Richard R. Titus

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: $1.23 million


Incident: March 2015

Suit filed: June 16, 2017

Verdict: June 8, 2018

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Richard H. Offutt, Jr. of Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad LLP in Westminster

Defendant’s Attorney: Danielle D. Giroux of Harman, Claytor, Corrigan & Wellman in Alexandria, Virginia

Counts: Negligence and loss of consortium

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