Tyson & Mendes Wins on Summary Judgement in an $8 Million Traumatic Brain Injury Case: Court Rules in Favor of Indiana-Based Pool Design Company
CHICAGO (June 16, 2022) – In another defense victory for nationwide civil defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP, a motion for summary judgment has been granted by Indiana’s St. Joseph Superior Court in favor of firm client Spear Corporation, a design/build company sued for alleged faulty design after a purported brain injury occurred in a newly constructed swimming pool (CAUSE NO. 71D04-1804-CT-000160).
According to Scott Ruksakiati, Managing Partner of Tyson & Mendes’ Chicago office, Spear prepared the engineering design for a swimming pool within a new health club facility in northern Indiana. “Shortly after the athletic facility was completed, plaintiff Jennifer Pennington was allegedly injured while swimming and colliding with the wing wall that protected the ADA access point into the pool,” said Ruksakiati, who represented Spear in the case. “Later, she alleged the pool was improperly designed and dangerous – and then claimed to have suffered a traumatic brain injury, for which she was seeking $8 million in damages.”
The final motion for summary judgement determined that there was no evidence that Spear’s pool design and construction was inadequate or negligent. “During litigation, the plaintiff’s liability expert, a former university professor whose background was in kinesiology and aquatic facility operations and management, maintained that although the pool was completely code compliant, it was still unreasonably dangerous,” Ruksakiati said. “Yet during his deposition, this expert admitted he had no education, training or experience in designing swimming pools and was not qualified to offer an opinion as to the applicable standard of care.”
Based upon this testimony, the motion for summary judgment was filed. “We argued the plaintiffs failed to present adequate expert opinion – mandated under Indiana law – because their own designated expert admitted he was not qualified,” Ruksakiati explained. In contrast, “we presented the opinions of a licensed professional engineer who designs swimming pools.”
Ultimately, after barring the plaintiff’s expert from opining about the design of the swimming pool and considering the opinions of the defendant’s expert, the Court determined there was no genuine issue of material fact that Spear’s pool design met the standard of care. As a result, the Court granted Tyson & Mendes’ motion for summary judgment.
Ruksakiati attributes the victory in this case to the immediate implementation of a proactive, strategic plan. “After receiving the plaintiff’s expert’s disclosure, we developed a cohesive strategy to bar him and support a motion for summary judgment. We understood what Indiana law required in terms of the plaintiff’s claims and formulated a way to fight the claims through deposition,” Ruksakiati said.
“While we are extremely sympathetic toward the plaintiff and her traumatic experience, we were able to prove that Spear Corporation had no culpability in this incident,” he added.
Tyson & Mendes has spent 20 years protecting its clients’ interests and delivering justice both inside and outside the courtroom. The firm has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and reducing the likelihood of Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $667 million in 2021, and $397 million thus far in 2022.
For more information, visit tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Headquartered in San Diego with offices throughout the country, Tyson & Mendes LLP is an AV-rated litigation firm specializing in insurance defense. Firm principals Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes, seasoned trial attorneys who collectively have a nearly 50-year background, have grown the firm to more than 150 attorneys defending corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters throughout California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Florida and New York. The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case on the “billed vs. paid” medical damages issue, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Visit www.tysonmendes.com.