Case of “Secondary Gain”
by Ron Davis
A shopper’s claim that she suffered injuries at a U.S. Toy Company store in Missouri has not resulted in the outcome she feels she deserves.
The woman maintained that her injuries caused her confinement to a wheelchair. And she sued U.S. Toy, seeking financial retribution.
The U.S. Toy store is located in the Kansas City area of Missouri, and the woman had been shopping there only a short while when the accident occurred. Afterwards, she hired a lawyer to handle the matter. And at the resulting trial, a jury found in favor of the injured woman. But to her surprise and disappointment, the jury awarded her only $7,216 for “economic damages.”
That award given her resulted in a challenge. She apparently considered $7,216 far too small an amount. So she hired a lawyer and appealed, hoping for a much larger sum by claiming that the jury did not fully consider evidence of her medical expenses.
She then submitted a claim for “special damages,” such as hospital bills totaling $1,114,876.40 and drug requirements totaling $10,949.23. Moreover, her lawyer added that the nature of the injury indicates ongoing treatment due to a chronic condition “requiring additional compensation.”
Later, she attempted to supplement her submission with even more medical records and bills. Still later, she again attempted to provide still further evidence of medical-related bills. Following that, her lawyer said that the nature of her injuries indicated an ongoing treatment due to a chronic condition that would require even more payments to her.
Testifying was a woman designated as an “expert witness.” She noted the various doctors who were involved in treating the injured woman and offered their credentials. Then, at the request of the court and over the objections of the lawyer for the injured woman, she defined a term known as “secondary gain,” which she said refers to patients who do something or present something in a way that allows them to receive money or some sort of compensation as a result of an injury.
Moreover, she noted that a doctor testified that the injured woman showed sign of leg spasms that the doctor noticed were not present until about 30 minutes into her visit.
Although the woman presented evidence that she suffers permanent debilitating conditions that she believes result from store racks falling on her, evidence was also presented that various medical professionals have no explanation for some of her physical conditions.
A Missouri circuit court ruled in favor of U.S. Toy. The injured woman appealed. But a Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court, explaining that while the jury believed that the woman suffered some injury as a result of U.S. Toy’s negligence, the jury chose not to believe that the extent of her injuries claimed were the result of negligence.
(Shanisha L. Saulberry v. U. S. Toy Company, Inc. (WD77562, Order Filed: August 11, 2015))
Decision: August 2015
Published: September 2015