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Injured driver wins claim despite defense’s focus on smoking

A fatal auto crash in Jefferson County resulted in an $850,000 verdict for an injured woman, followed by a slightly larger post-trial settlement.

Margaret Davis was struck head-on when a vehicle operated by Nedzad Pacariz crossed the center line into the southbound lanes of U.S. 61. Pacariz died in the crash. Davis suffered elbow damage requiring emergency surgery, then two more procedures over the next two years when that failed.

Davis sued the deceased driver’s employer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Shaun Falvey of Goldblatt + Singer, the lead attorney for Davis, said the defense argued that the failure of the fusion to take was because of her smoking.

“Our client was a pretty heavy smoker,” he said. “She did make some efforts to quit during the course of her treatment and care, but she was never completely successful at quitting altogether.”

Falvey said the defendants conceded their driver was negligent in crossing the centerline. Black box data revealed that he didn’t hit his brakes and didn’t swerve.

An examination of the decedent’s iPhone showed a series of unopened texts just before and after impact. Both parties agreed he was not on the phone or texting at the time, but Falvey argued that it may have been a distraction and said the company policies on phone usage could have played a role. However, the judge granted summary judgment to the defense on the plaintiff’s punitive damages claim.

Falvey said he believed the jury found Davis likable and humble.

“I think they were all impressed by our client,” he said. “I think that was a major factor in their decision.”

He said that the parties reached a post-trial settlement increasing the total to $900,000.

Tim Hasken of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, an attorney for the defense, declined to immediately comment.

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$850,000 verdict

Motor vehicle collision

Venue: Jefferson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 17JE-CC00021/April 21, 2022

Judge: Troy Cardona

Plaintiff’s Experts: Mehesh Bagwe, St. Louis (orthopedic surgery); George Paletta, St. Louis (orthopedic surgery); Rebecca Brandsted, St. Louis, (ENT)

Defendant’s Experts: Kevin Quigley, St. Louis (impact of smoking)

Last Pretrial Demand: $1 million

Last Pretrial Offer: $450,000

Caption: Margaret Davis v. EAN Holdings dba Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Nedzad Pacariz

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Shaun Falvey and Amanda Murphy, Goldblatt + Singer, St. Louis

Defendants’ Attorney: Tim Hasken, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, St. Louis

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