CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Benjamin Cloward delivering his closing argument
Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury awarded $8 million on Friday to a woman who suffered back injuries after being rear-ended by a FedEx truck, and the full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
The jury returned their verdict a few hours after closing arguments concluded in a one-week trial that began August 19. Plaintiff Naddia Dhalai sued FedEx following a 2014 collision on I-95 where a FedEx driver failed to properly apply his brakes and slammed into the back of her car.
FedEx admitted liability for the accident prior to the trial but disputed the extent and severity of Dhalai’s claimed neck and back injuries, leaving the jury to determine the amount of compensation she deserved. At trial the company argued Dhalai’s injuries largely resulted from a second unrelated car crash she experienced months after the accident in question, and that she largely recovered from the injuries caused by the FedEx truck.
Subscribers to CVN’s online video library get unlimited on-demand access to the full trial, including all witness testimony, along with hundreds of other civil trials in a wide range of practice areas in state courts throughout the country.
Attorney Benjamin P. Cloward of the Cloward Trial Lawyers told CVN that FedEx offered to settle the case for $1.8 million, an amount that Cloward said did not change during the course of the trial. He said the parties did not enter into a high/low agreement.
Cloward stated he made an initial settlement demand of $2 million, an amount he said remained unchanged during three mediations over three years. Midway through the trial Cloward said he again made the same demand, but FedEx rejected the offer.
“I still cannot understand why FedEx refused to revaluate the case time and time again despite continued medical care and treatment,” Cloward said.
He explained that attorney’s fees, costs and interest could eventually result in a substantially higher award.
“We served a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment early-on in the case for $2,000,000, which means that in addition to the $8,000,000 we should get another $4,000,000 in attorney's fees, costs and interest,” Cloward said. “So essentially because FedEx was unwilling to pay the additional $210,000, if all appeals are upheld, they could end up paying an extra $10,000,000. 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 $2,000,000.”
Cloward emphasized that a significant portion of the verdict, $5 million, was allocated for Dhalai's future medical care. He attributed that amount to persuasive testimony from Dhalai's treating physicians.
“We had fantastic treating physicians who were able to clearly explain the injures, treatment and need for the future care,” Cloward said.
The case went to a jury nearly six years after being filed in 2016, an unusually long amount of time for an automotive negligence case to go to trial. Cloward said the trial was continued approximately 14 times - mostly due to Covid-related court shutdowns and delays.
CVN screenshot of defense attorney Michael Nuñez delivering his closing argument
FedEx spokesperson Meredith Miller told CVN that safety is the company’s highest priority and their “thoughts and concerns remain with those affected by this accident.”
“We are currently reviewing our options in this matter,” she said.
The trial took place before Judge Veronica Barisich.
FedEx was represented by Michael J. Nuñez, Partner-in-Charge of Murchison & Cumming, LLP's Las Vegas office.
The case is captioned Naddia Dhalai v. FedEx Ground Package System Inc., et al., case number A-16-740737-C in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada.
E-mail David Siegel at email@example.com