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Johnson v. Quimby

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

March 29, 2018

MEG N. JOHNSON, Plaintiff
v.
MONICA L .QUIMBY and RICHARD
v.
ROBERGE, Defendants

          JUDGMENT

          NANCY MILLS JUSTICE

         Background

         Jury-waived trial on plaintiff Meg N. Johnson's complaint against defendant Richard V. Roberge was held on March 22, 2018. Plaintiff filed her complaint on September 14, 2017. Defendant Quimby was served with plaintiff's complaint on November 2, 2017 and filed an answer on November 13, 2017. Plaintiff has settled her claims against defendant Quimby and will file a dismissal.

         Defendant Roberge was served with plaintiff's complaint October 18, 2017. He did not respond to plaintiff's complaint and his default was entered on November 29, 2017. Notice of the hearing was sent to defendant Roberge at his two addresses in the court's file. One was returned. Plaintiff appeared at the trial with counsel. Defendant Roberge failed to appear.

         Facts

         Because of defendant Roberge's default, the facts in the complaint are deemed to be true. See Ireland v. Carpenter. 2005 ME 98, ¶ 18, 879 A.2d 35. The accident involving the car operated by plaintiff and the car operated by defendant Roberge in Old Orchard Beach on February 8, 2014 was caused by defendant Roberge's negligence. (Compl. Count II, ¶¶ 12-17.) The trial evidence also supports this conclusion. (Pl.'s Exs. 3-7.) Further, his negligence proximately caused injuries and damages to plaintiff. (Compl. Count II, ¶¶ 17-18; Count III, ¶¶ 2-3.) The trial evidence also supports this conclusion. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 30.) Plaintiff is 25 years old.

         Operating at a speed of 40 m.p.h., defendant Roberge rear ended the car operated by plaintiff. Plaintiff's head hit the steering wheel and window. Inside car lights fell on plaintiff's head. She sustained a traumatic brain injury and injuries to her head, shoulder, neck, and back. Plaintiff was in extreme pain and was screaming and crying. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, R. 0004; R. 0046-47; R. 0075; Pl.'s Ex. 8 7.)

         As a result of scoliosis, titanium rods had been inserted in plaintiff's back in August 2008. Immediately after the accident, plaintiff was terrified that she was paralyzed and was dying. She was unable to see her then boyfriend, who was a passenger in her car, and thought he was dead.

         After the accident, plaintiff suffered from constant migraines, which made her nauseous, sensitive to light and sound. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 12-19.) She felt as though there were a thousand rocks in her head, swishing together. She had a history of concussions and headaches, which made her more at risk for increased symptoms from an additional concussion. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 10; 31.) The headaches she suffered after the accident and continues to suffer are much more severe than those suffered before the accident. She was able to control the pre-accident headaches with Tylenol and Advil, which are ineffective to relieve her current migraine symptoms.

         Plaintiff had a difficult time at work after the accident. She was unable to communicate effectively, to concentrate, or to use her computer. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 23-24.) Her cognition difficulties remain and she has a hard time processing what people say and asks for explanations. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, R. 0080; R. 0084-0085; Pl.'s Ex. 8 22-24.) She lost her sense of smell until April 2015. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 17-18.) She also lost hearing in her left ear, which resolved within a few months. She is constantly tired because she cannot sleep. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 15.)

         For the first month after the accident, she suffered a migraine continuously. Thereafter, she had three or four migraines weekly, sometimes lasting all day and into the night. She was required to totally shut down and lie in bed with the shades closed, lights off, and sound eliminated.

         She began taking nausea medicine because she was vomiting three or four times per week. She has tried four or five different medicines since the accident. She has also tried homeopathic remedies, yoga, and acupuncture, which were not successful in addressing her pain. She attended physical and occupational therapy. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, R. 0084.) She continues to look for options.

         Her primary care physician, Dr. James Zeitlin, ordered complete brain rest for two weeks for plaintiff with no use of a cell phone, computer, television, and no reading. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, R. 0080.) Dr. Zeitlin also referred plaintiff to Dr. Mark Kiefner, a clinical neuropsychologist, whom she saw for four months. (Pl.'s Ex. 1, R. 0075-0087; Pl.'s Ex. 8 5.)

         She remained out of work for those two weeks. Before the accident, she worked 32 to 36 hours per week, depending on her school schedule. At the time of the accident, she worked 36 hours per week and earned $15.25 per hour. Three weeks after the accident, she returned to work for four to six hours per day with restrictions and for not more than 20 hours per week. (Pl.'s Ex. 8 25.) In late ...


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