reports on the civil case from Cumberland, Pa that resulted in a $910,000 judgment for Mary Calvert who was injured when a Pizza delivery driver for Sidotis Pizzeria ran her down.
This is from reporter Matt Miller's story:
"Mary Calvert (nice looking lady, in pic) doesn’t recall much about the crash that left her disabled. She was trying to cross a Lemoyne street at a crosswalk when a pizza delivery driver came seemingly out of nowhere and ran her down, she said.
'I don’t even remember being in the ambulance,' said Calvert, 61, of New Cumberland. 'The next thing I remember was a month later. My right side was crushed. They had to staple my head together and remove 3 inches from my leg,' she said.
More than three years after the January 2007 crash, a Cumberland County judge has awarded Calvert nearly $910,000 in damages against the delivery driver and his employer, Sidoti’s Italian Grille and Pizzeria in Lower Allen Township. The award is large by Cumberland County standards, and it’s unusual in another way. Sidoti’s and the delivery driver, Jeffrey Viguers, 48, of Fairview Township, did not defend themselves against the lawsuit Calvert filed seeking compensation for her injuries. Viguers and officials at Sidoti’s, which remains open, didn’t return phone calls seeking comments on the case.
County President Judge Kevin A. Hess, who approved Calvert’s award, said that in his 24 years on the bench he’s never seen a case with such high stakes play out without any attempt at a defense.
"I’ve had some cases that were unopposed but nothing of this magnitude,' Hess said. 'And this was a very serious case. ... This lady went from being an active woman to [using a wheelchair] for the rest of her life.'
Dauphin County President Judge Todd A. Hoover said undefended civil cases are rare in his county, too, usually occurring only when defendants lack insurance. Lawsuits over traffic crashes often are resolved by settlements in negotiations with the defendants’ insurance companies.
Calvert’s lawyer, Stephen Held, said Sidoti’s lacked insurance coverage for the crash. He said the firm never responded to his correspondence or legal filings, but he spoke with Viguers, who expressed remorse that Calvert had been hurt. Calvert said Viguers’ car insurance didn’t cover him for delivering pizzas. 'I thought they would at least have come in and talked to us,' Held said of Sidoti’s. 'It’s strange, but what can you do? I informed them of all the [court] proceedings. But I can’t force them to come.'
Court records show Viguers paid $257 in fines after pleading guilty to charges of speeding and failing to yield to a pedestrian that were filed by West Shore Regional Police. Because Sidoti’s lacked insurance, Held said he’ll have to seek to enforce Hess’ damage award by securing a judgment against the firm and its assets, a process that could be more difficult if Sidoti’s files for bankruptcy protection.
Calvert’s insurer has covered her $250,000 in medical bills to date, Held said.
Randy Lee, a Widener University School of Law professor and an expert on civil court procedure, said the Calvert case illustrates why lawsuits shouldn’t be ignored by defendants. Even the uninsured can at least hire attorneys to defend their interests, he said.
Calvert said the crash devastated her life. 'I was a waitress. I would work 10 hours a day with no problem,' she said. 'Now I can’t work. I can’t walk more than two blocks without a cane or a walker. Most of the time I use a wheelchair.' She added that she can’t pick up the three grandchildren born since the crash. Her doctors told her she’ll need surgeries, including hip replacements, she said. So the money from Hess’ award, if she ever gets it, 'can’t ever compensate me for my pain and suffering,'Calvert said. 'But at least I’m alive.'
This is an interesting article because it goes to the social problem of shifting the burden of loss.
The story should raise a lot of questions in your mind about the risk of uninsured drivers. How can a business stay in business delivering food or other products when their delivery persons aren't covered for liability to others? Some state have reformed their laws to address these situations, Pa. needs to address the gap in their insurance and business laws.