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Montgomery County jury awards $1.8M to Uber driver injured in collision

A Montgomery County jury has awarded more than $1 million for the emotional trauma an Uber driver continues to endure after being severely injured in a car crash four years ago when another motorist ran a red light in Fairland.

The jury’s award last month of $1.2 million for Raymond Quick’s pain and suffering is expected to be reduced to $860,000 due to Maryland’s statutory cap on non-economic damages.

The jury also awarded Quick $600,000 in compensation for his past and future medical expenses related to bowel, bladder and walking difficulties that arose and persist due to the collision at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Musgrove Road on Feb. 17, 2017.

The total award, in light of the cap, will be reduced from $1.8 million to $1.46 million.

Quick’s attorney, Mark E. Rosasco, called the jury’s award for pain and suffering “appropriate” because Quick’s lasting physical and emotional injuries “if not catastrophic are darn close to it.”

The jury was told that Quick, who is in his mid-50s, has a life expectancy of 26 years with little hope of significant recovery.

“That’s more than a quarter century of pain and suffering,” Rosasco, of Hyatt & Weber PA in Annapolis, said Monday.

The at-fault driver, Pragnya Gandhi, was insured, defended and indemnified by State Farm, which has filed a motion for a new trial based on what its attorney called prejudicial comments by Rosasco during trial.

“The last chapter has not been written in this case,” Edwin “Ted” H. Staples II said Monday. “This case is not over yet.”

According to Rosasco, Quick can no longer work because of his injuries and lives on money provided by his elderly mother and loaned to him at high-interest rates by commercial lenders for crash victims who expect to receive financial compensation.

Rosasco said he made the strategic decision not to seek compensation at trial for Quick’s lost future earnings because the money Uber and other ride-sharing drivers earn is speculative and difficult to calculate.

The lawyer said he wanted the trial, and subsequent jury deliberations, to focus on compensating Quick’s medical expenses and emotional trauma without time and attention being consumed with discussions of what an Uber driver can earn.

“It would have weakened our argument,” Rosasco said.

Staples, State Farm’s attorney, said Quick’s injuries would likely have been much less severe had he received better medical care following the crash.

“It was not a bad collision, said Staples, of Staples Law Group LLC in Annapolis. “Everything that could have gone wrong (medically) went wrong.”

Staples called Quick “a nice guy” who was a sympathetic and very personable plaintiff.

“This was a jury that obviously really liked Mr. Quick a lot,” Staples said “They just felt badly for Mr. Quick.”

Rosasco said he had offered to settle the case with State Farm for $1 million, the extent of Gandhi’s policy coverage. However, the insurer countered with an “unreasonable” offer of $43,000, guaranteeing the case would go to trial, Rosasco added.

State Farm, in its motion for a new trial, has argued that Quick’s counsel unfairly prejudiced the jury by arguing that the insurer had sought its own medical examination of Quick solely to reduce the amount of the damages claim.

Rosasco called the chances of Montgomery County Circuit Judge Kevin G. Hessler ordering a new trial “slim to none.” In his response to State Farm’s motion, Rosasco expressed surprise that the case even went to trial.

“Cases with conceded liability, serious injury and plenty of insurance settle,” Rosasco wrote. “But since the carrier decided to be unreasonable, the case was tried and an appropriate verdict awarded. Auto tort verdicts are not usually this large because high value cases typically resolve without a trial.”

The case is docketed in Montgomery County Circuit Court as Raymond Quick v. Pragnya Gandhi, No. 468448V.