$8M judgment shows why going to court doesn’t always pay

A Nevada jury has ordered FedEx to pay $8 million in a Las Vegas court to a plaintiff as a result of a crash.

In 2014, court records show a FedEx truck slammed into the back of Naddia Dhalai’s car when the driver failed to properly apply his brakes. FedEx admitted liability for the crash. Dhalai filed suit in 2016.

At issue was the extent of Dhalai’s neck and back injuries. FedEx alleged that a second, unrelated car crash Dhalai experienced months after the crash involving FedEx was responsible for her current condition.

Settlement offered, declined

The case dragged on for years and was further delayed by the pandemic. FedEx offered to settle the case for $1.8 million. In three separate mediations, the plaintiff’s attorneys offered to settle the case for $2 million.

FedEx stood its ground: The case would go before a Nevada state court jury.

After a near-two-week trial, it was clear the jury took a substantially divergent view from the FedEx position. The jury awarded Dhalai $8 million, of which $5 million was allocated for Dhalai’s future medical care, largely based on the testimony of the woman’s treating physicians.

“We served a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment early on in the case for $2 million, which means that, in addition to the $8 million, we should get another $4 million in attorney’s fees, costs and interest,” one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, Benjamin Cloward, said in an interview. “So, essentially, because FedEx was unwilling to pay the additional $210,000, if all appeals are upheld, they could end up paying an extra $10 million. I specifically outlined these risks to FedEx in the hopes of bringing about resolution, but they flatly refused all of our efforts to resolve the case for $2 million.”

Take it to court?

“They should have taken my case to court” is a consistent message insurance brokers, claim adjusters and underwriters hear. Some lawsuits do wind up in court, like the FedEx case. While we don’t know all of the details regarding the litigation, the case does shed light on the rationale for avoiding court whenever possible.

Meanwhile, a Seattle attorney is highlighting a $10 million settlement his firm secured for an incident arising when a tour bus struck a pedestrian.   

Ken Presley is the Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO for the United Motorcoach Association.

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