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Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Central Pennsylvania $450,000 Verdict

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The Pottsville Republican Herald is reporting about a Berks County lumber company which must pay an Orwigsburg woman more than $450,000, as a three-judge state Superior Court panel upheld a jury verdict resulting from a two-day trial in April 2011 in Schuylkill County Court.

In an 11-page opinion filed Tuesday in Pottsville, the panel ruled the jury committed no error in finding MRD Lumber Co., Bethel, liable for knee injuries suffered by Suzanne Holley in the Aug. 24, 2004, accident on Route 61 in West Brunswick Township.

"Evidence was sufficient to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the … accident caused the injury to Holley's knees," Judge Anne E. Lazarus wrote in the opinion.

Holley had filed her lawsuit against MRD on July 18, 2006, as the result of the crash in the southbound lanes of Route 61 in front of what was then MRD's business location.

Holley testified she was driving south on Route 61 about 1:15 p.m. when an MRD flatbed truck driven by Edward J. Yaeger, Auburn, pulled out of that business' driveway and into both southbound lanes. Holley said she tried to go around the truck but hit the driver's side rear tires.

Jurors on April 12, 2011, awarded Holley $425,000 in damages, which Judge Jacqueline L. Russell, who presided over the two-day trial, reduced to $382,500. However, Russell later added $83,935.16 in delay damages, which are awarded against defendants that do not make adequate settlement offers in cases they lose, resulting in a total award to Holley of $466,435.16.

In her opinion, Lazarus wrote that Holley immediately started having problems with both of her knees after the accident, meaning the lack of proper expert testimony was not fatal to her case.

"Holley exhibited symptoms shortly after she was involved in the motor vehicle accident and the symptoms were of a type that was a natural and probable consequence of a motor vehicle accident," Lazarus wrote.

Furthermore, although there was evidence that did not support Holley's claim, which evidence to believe was a question for the jury, according to Lazarus.

"We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the … verdict winner," she wrote.

Judges Susan Peikes Gantman and Sallie Updyke Mundy, the other members of the panel, joined in Lazarus' opinion