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Passenger receives $1.25M after crash causes brain injury

Alan Scher Zagier//May 9, 2017

Passenger receives $1.25M after crash causes brain injury

Alan Scher Zagier//May 9, 2017

A St. Louis woman who sustained a traumatic brain injury while riding in a car that crashed after a police chase has settled a lawsuit against the imprisoned driver for $1.25 million.

The three-car collision occurred shortly after 9 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2013 at the intersection of Saint Louis and Newstead avenues on St. Louis’ north side. Driver Javante Vann – who did not have a valid license – fled from a police traffic stop, according to St. Louis police. He then ran stop signs, wove through traffic and crossed the center line before the 2009 Chevrolet Impala he was driving was struck on its passenger side by a 1995 Chevy Caprice, according to police. The Impala then struck a third car, a 1997 Mercury Sable.

Vann testified that after the collision, back-seat passenger Lytesha Patton, 22, was unconscious. An ambulance took Patton to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where a hole was drilled in her skull and an intercranial pressure monitoring device inserted to monitor possible edema, or brain swelling. She was discharged one week later for inpatient therapy at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, remaining there for another week.

The legal dispute in part revolved around the extent and permanence of Patton’s brain injury. In pretrial proceedings, the defense highlighted Patton’s previous involvement in two other car accidents in which she sustained head injuries.

Circuit Judge Dennis M. Schaumann ruled that Vann’s negligence caused his passenger to suffer a traumatic brain injury in a July 27, 2016 order granting in part the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

At the same time, Schaumann denied the summary judgment motion on an affirmative defense that her claims should have been “barred or … reduced” for failing to mitigate damages by not completing the rehab program and neurological testing prescribed by her doctors. The order notes that Patton was discharged from The Rehabilitation Institute against medical advice, despite continuing cognitive deficits such as memory loss.

Following the cancellation of a trial scheduled to start Aug. 1, 2016, the settlement of the 2015 lawsuit was signed in early September, according to records provided by plaintiff’s attorneys Andrew Mundwiller and Zane Cagle of the Cagle Law Firm in St. Louis. The settlement stipulates confidentiality of the identity of Vann’s insurer.

Cagle said that before filing suit, his client made an initial, policy limits demand of $50,000 that was rejected by the defense.

Defense attorney Scott Hofer, of Foland, Wickens, Roper, Hofer and Crawford in Kansas City, responded that the much lower demand was made “when there was little or no information released about the injury.”

“The settlement was years later, after protracted discovery and after it became evident that she had a serious, traumatic brain injury,” he said.

Vann pleaded guilty to felony resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death, and received a 5-year prison sentence. That conviction was instrumental in securing the seven-figure settlement, Mundwiller said.

“The conduct of the driver was subject to punitive damages for intentional, wanton and total disregard for the value of human life,” he said.

$1.25 million settlement
Motor vehicle collision
Venue: St. Louis Circuit Court
Case Number/Date: 1422-CC00539/July 30, 2016
Caption: Lytesha Patton v. Javonte Vann
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Andrew G. Mundwiller and Zane T. Cagle, The Cagle Law Firm, St. Louis
Defendant’s Attorneys: Scott D. Hofer, Paul Wickens and Robert Houske, Foland, Wickens, Roper, Hofer and Crawford, Kansas City
Injuries alleged: frontal lobe brain injury
Judge: Dennis Schaumann
Special Damages: $91,097.99
First Pretrial Demand: $50,000 (policy limit)
First Pretrial Offer: $50,000 (after suit was filed, rejected by plaintiff)
Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Joshua S. Shimony, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (neuroradiology); Dr. Randall Benson, Center for Neurological Studies, Dearborn, Michigan (behavioral neurology); William Blessing, Kansas City (neuropsychological counseling); Jan Klosterman, Ballwin (life planning); Terry Cordray, Overland Park, Kansas (vocational rehabilitation)
Defendant’s Experts: Michael Oliveri, Chesterfield (neuropsychology); Susan Riddick-Grisham, Richmond, Virginia (life care planning); Timothy Lalk, England & Co., St. Louis (vocational rehabilitation)
Insurance: confidential (for Vann)


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Vann entered The Rehabilitation Center, it was Patton.

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