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Client, a 60-year-old licensed plumber, arrived at defendant’s farm to estimate the cost of installing water lines for cattle. When he arrived, the farmer was extracting a dead calf from a first-calf heifer with a rope attached to a farm truck. Defendant asked the plumber and his co-worker to assist him, which they did. After the dead calf was pulled, the farmer released the heifer from the cattle chute and she went around a corner into one of several working pens. The farmer then directed the plumber into the pen to perform the estimate without first closing off the gate to prevent the heifer from coming into the pen. As the client walked through the gate, the large heifer attacked the client from behind, throwing him at least 30 feet into the air, according to an eyewitness. He landed on the back of his neck and shoulders and suffered a traumatic aortic aneurysm which required immediate surgical repair, fractured ribs, subclavian artery damage, pulmonary contusions, a morel lavellee lesion of the hip, and an abdominal aneurysm and an arrthymia requiring installation of a pacemaker.

The client returned to work, part-time, shortly after his injury but was never able to return to full-duty work because of chronic shoulder, neck and back pain. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and was receiving benefits at the time of settlement. The case was complicated by a non-related heart attack and carotid artery repair, and medical causation for the pacemaker was disputed. The claimed medical bills related to his injury totaled $372,138. A future life care plan estimated his future treatment at $396,398.

The case was filed in Fauquier County Circuit Court but was successfully mediated prior to trial by the Hon. Diane Strickland. The parties to the mediation included the plaintiff, the defendant, counsel for the workers’ compensation carrier as well as subrogation counsel and the adjuster for the liability insurance carrier. A self-administered MSA was approved by Medicare to address payment of future medical bills related to the injuries the client sustained from the attack by the heifer.

Type of action: Premises liability

Injuries alleged: Traumatic aortic aneurism, heart damage, rib fractures, abdominal aneurysm, pulmonary contusions, a morel lavellee lesion of the hip and chronic shoulder, neck and back pain

Name of case: Ronald Manuel v. James M. Marshall IV

Court: Fauquier Circuit Court

Name of judge or mediator: Hon. Diane Strickland

Special damages: $372,138.00 in past medical bills, $396,398 in future bills as well as lost wages and loss of earning capacity

Verdict or settlement: Mediated Settlement

Amount: $1,200,000

Attorneys for plaintiff: Barbara S. Williams, Leesburg; Craig Davis, Richmond

Plaintiff’s experts: Stanley G. Crossland, M.D.: Stephanie Clop, M.D.; Dan E. Eversole, Ph. D., Beef Cattle Management; Betty Overbey, R. N., C.R.R.N., Life Care Planner; and F.M. Love, Cattleman

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