Van operator closes door on plaintiff's hand
Personal Injury
Common Carrier Negligence
Orange County Superior Court

On the evening of September 9, 2012, plaintiff Susan Andrea Fitch-Hutton (58 yrs old) was taking a shuttle from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport to the Hilton Hotel when one of the defendant’s shuttle van operators, Wasihune Gebre-Mariam, closed a van door on plaintiff’s left hand. The shuttle driver was acting in the course and scope of his employment for PM Hospitality Strategies, Inc. when the incident occurred.

Ms. Fitch-Hutton was admitted to Baltimore-Washington Medical Center where she was treated in the Emergency Department for a crush injury to her left index and middle fingers. She was evaluated and stabilized and found to be neurovascularly intact. She was released early the next morning with finger splints and pain medication.

Ms. Fitch-Hutton was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”) and ultimately received a spinal cord stimulator. Defendant argued that plaintiff did not have CRPS and was fully capable of returning to work. In support, defendant had obtained several surveillance videos of plaintiff engaged in activities inconsistent with a diagnosis of CRPS and inconsistent with someone incapable of returning to gainful employment.

Plaintiff’s past medical bills were $73,056.41 paid by workers comp. She had also received disability benefits through workers comp in the amount of $61,869.76. Plaintiff alleged past loss of earnings inclusive of disability benefits in the amount of $209,829 - $220,750; future loss of earnings of $1,349,273 - $1,419,976; and future medical care of $1,773,276. Defendant contended that at a maximum, it should be held liable for past loss of earnings of $193,806 - $200,133; future loss of earnings of $179,169 - $212,166; and future medical care of $265,673.

Maryland has a statutory cap on pain and suffering of $750,000. Settlement was reached the day before trial.