Michael Sprick, a German citizen, was traveling through the United States for an extended bicycle cycling trip. He was an enthusiastic and avid cyclist. While he was riding his bicycle on a shoulder of a two-lane road in Virginia, a truck driver, Norman Marchant, driving a Freightliner truck at about 55 mph, drove onto the shoulder of the road and struck Sprick. Sprick was ejected from his bicycle and thrown more than 100 feet.
Sprick, 40 at the time, suffered multiple severe injuries and went into cardiac arrest, which resulted in anoxic brain damage. Sprick was airlifted to a medical center where doctors diagnosed a traumatic brain injury, including axonal shearing, cerebral acceleration trauma, left occipital ischemia with hemorrhaging, hydrocephalus and spastic quadriparesis.
He also sustained multiple spinal and rib fractures, a pulmonary contusion and collapsed lung and injuries to his spleen. Sprick was placed on a ventilator and was treated for three months incurring $591,000 in medical expenses.
At his family’s request, he was then flown back to Germany on a medically equipped airplane. There, he underwent neuro-rehabilitation and surgery for placement of a programmable shunt. The shunt was defective, and Sprick was required to undergo a second surgery to have it removed and replaced, followed by intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy. He incurred an additional $375,400 in medical expenses in his home country, Germany.
Sprick no longer requires a ventilator and can periodically respond to verbal commands. He is unable to speak and requires 24-hour care. His medical expenses and life-care costs are estimated between $322,200 and $462,500 annually, depending on whether he remains in a nursing facility or returns home. His life expectancy is another 40 years.
At the time of this horrific incident, Sprick was working for a health resort as an assistant aquatics director and shift leader with average annual earnings of $33,200 in the four years prior to this incident. Sprick is now permanently disabled. His past lost earnings totaled $93,200 and his future lost earnings are estimated at $741,600.
A guardian on behalf of Sprick sued Norman Marchant, the driver in Virginia state court, claiming he was negligent for choosing not to keep a proper lane lookout, pay proper attention to his driving and timely brake to avoid colliding with Sprick on his bicycle. The lawsuit also named Marchant’s employer, Hostess Brands Inc. and several related corporations, alleging that they were liable under respondeat superior for Marchant’s negligence, as well as directly responsible for negligent training and supervision of Marchant as a truck driver.
Several months after the lawsuit was filed, Hostess Brands Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which stayed the state court case. Plaintiff’s counsel successfully moved to have the stay lifted and refiled the lawsuit in Virginia’s federal district court.
The parties settled during a mediation for $21 million. The settlement included the establishment of a $13 million fund to pay for Sprick’s enormous future medical and life care costs. Considering the magnitude of Sprick’s terrible injuries and the fact that Hostess Brands chose to file bankruptcy, this is a remarkable result in a very difficult setting. Congratulations to attorneys Michael A. Kernbach and Paul R. Thomson III for the work they did in representing Michael Sprick.
Incidentally, it was footnoted in the report of this case that the lawyers who successfully represented Sprick were granted their 1/3 contingency fee for reasonableness. The lawyers in addition to spending thousands of dollars in expenses to litigate this case and the hundreds, if not thousands of hours of attorney time working up the case, they also were involved in navigating the German healthcare system and providers, as well as translating multiple documents from English to German and back to English as well as preparing family members and others for depositions in Germany as well as the United States.
Williams v. Old HB, Inc., No. 7:13-cv-00464 (W.D. Va., Dec. 31, 2014).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck accident cases, bicycle accident cases and catastrophic injury cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 38 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Highland Park, Riverside, Berwyn, Maywood, Bellwood, Hillside, Park Ridge, Oak Park, Palatine, River Forest, Round Lake, Skokie, St. Charles, Western Springs, Hinsdale, Joliet, Lisle and Lincolnwood, Ill.
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