In Begin v. Miller (Hennepin County District Court, 2010), an automobile accident occurred when a vehicle in front of Mr. Begin stopped abruptly, causing Mr. Begin to stop, and Mr. Miller hit him from behind. After the accident, Mr. Begin began an extensive course of treatment, which included left knee surgery and a discectomy and fusion at L4-5. He also claimed he was unable to return to work as a heavy equipment operator as a result of his injuries.
Mr. Begin was unwilling to settle on reasonable terms, so Deborah Eckland and Alan King tried the case. There was evidence at trial that in the weeks immediately following the accident, all doctors indicated Mr. Begin was only mildly injured and that his injuries were resolving. Mr. Begin’s injuries did not become more severe until after he had retained an attorney. The evidence also showed that Mr. Begin had gone back to work for months following the accident, and that any loss of work he experienced thereafter was due to the downturn in the economy.
The trial lasted six days. In closing, Mr. Begin’s attorney requested more than $700,000 in damages. The jury returned a verdict finding the vehicle in front of Mr. Begin 30% at fault and Mr. Miller 70% at fault. The jury awarded Mr. Begin only $52,420 which, after collateral source offsets, and the cross-allocation of costs, entitled Mr. Begin to only $38,551.57.