by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
Gayle Sullivan and Charles Price of McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan talked with us about a case they settled for $13.5 million. They shared insights into the use of a legal settlement video and the decision to bring a loss of parental consortium claim in the case.
Gayle Sullivan, Esq: Our client Allison Vandermaelen got into a terrible accident. She was on a motorcycle with her fiance. They were hit by a garbage truck and unfortunately he was killed and she suffered very serious injuries.
Charles Price, Esq: What you want to do is capture on video, the experiences of the plaintiff. Especially their emotional and physical reaction to the injury, their recovery, their physical therapy. We had Geomatrix take early video of Allison when she was really in very rough shape.
As Allison Vandermaelen says in the video, “I need the walker to hold myself up because I can’t stand on my own, and I get tired very quickly. And it hurts. There’s just a lot of pain.”
Her daughter Jenna continues, “It was really hard for us to be here in the house without both my parents, because it’s not normal. You live with your parents, and us having to take care of everything was really difficult.”
Charles Price, Esq: The CT Supreme Court has recognized that there is a value to a loss of a parental relationship by a child.
Gayle Sullivan, Esq: Allison’s daughter Jenna was 16 at the time of this accident and that’s a critical time for a young girl, a junior in high school. She was deprived not only of her mother’s guidance, but she also had to become her mother’s caregiver. So this was kind of a perfect case for the loss of consortium claim.
In the video Allison says, “My kids lived home here for three months without me to take care of the house. And they went to school and took care of the dog, and now they’re my caregivers.”
According to Jenna, “My mom’s accident impacted my life in a lot of different ways. Emotionally probably the most.”
Gayle Sullivan, Esq: It was very powerful to show how Jenna at 16 had to provide a lot of physical care and emotional support to her mother, when usually it would expect to be the other way around.
In the video Jenna confides, “My mom cries a lot, and it’s really hard for me and my brother, because we know how much she’s hurting. And I obviously don’t understand it, because I didn’t lose the love of my life. That’s the hardest part is seeing her in pain and and genuinely heartbroken.”
Gayle Sullivan, Esq: What we were able to capture was Jenna talking about how she felt losing her mother’s guidance, and the impact on her of having to provide physical care and emotional support to her mother, and that was very effective. We wanted to show the insurance company the strengths of our clients, the types of witnesses they were going to be faced with, and we wanted to do that early on in a way that a deposition transcript simply can’t do. Oftentimes clients can’t really express themselves directly to insurance people and lawyers in a way that they can do in the comfort of their own home. So we find that using the video in this manner is a way to present to people who are important in resolving the case, what kind of a witness the person is, and how they’re able to convey their story very effectively.
Gayle Sullivan, Esq: The total settlement was about $13.5 million, and $1.5 million of that was attributable to Jenna’s loss of parental consortium. We felt that that was a very significant recovery for her because it was only for an 18-month period of her life. Yet it was a very significant part of her life and a significant loss to her. We felt that having the video depicting Jenna talking about the losses that she had and taking care of her mother played a big role in helping us to resolve that part of the case successfully.
When working on your next wrongful death or injury case, trust Geomatrix Legal Video Services to produce a settlement video that will get you the best results possible for your clients.Read more
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
Michael Jainchill, Esq. – RisCassi & Davis: “The Janet Pulver case resolved through a mediation. Judge Elaine Gordon was our mediator. What made Janet Pulver perfect for video really had to do with the nature of the loss that was suffered in that particular case. Ordinarily in a wrongful death case you have somebody who is a wage earner, who may be 40 years of age, they’ve got an earning capacity, they’ve got a work life expectancy, that type of thing. Janet’s situation was unique because she had retired expressly to take care of her grandchildren.”
“So, we needed to get across the type of person she was, the nature of what kind of an individual she was. (excerpt from video) It was that, coupled with the fact that this was probably one of the most dramatic motor vehicle collisions I had ever seen in almost 40 years of doing this. I mean the liability was outrageous, the speed at which the vehicles collided, and then her suffering, because she lived for 28 hours before she unfortunately passed away in the hospital. That needed to get across, and you could do it much more dramatically with a video presentation, with photographs of the scene, and with interviews of the family members. (excerpt from video) The judge who was the mediator, she has gone out of her way to express to me how significant that was in making her understand what the loss was to this family. If you just looked at the statistics, it gives a different flavor than if you try to make people understand what this woman’s life was really all about and what it meant for her, and to her family, for her to pass.”
“What I do with these is I will send it to the mediator and the defense lawyer and the insurance company ahead of the mediation. In Janet’s case, we actually sent it out before they asked for mediation. So I think it might have been instrumental in making them interested in mediating the case. But it was completed and it was done. Ordinarily what we would do is we would send it out at the time we send out the position statement, so usually that’s a week or so before a mediation or before a pretrial or that type of thing. And what we’ve learned to do, is to embed a link, to the video itself in the written position statement, which we then send electronically.”
“It’s so worth the effort and energy, and even the expense, because it’s not inexpensive to do it. But like anything else, if you do something correctly, if you do it the right way, it’s always worth it. This was a way to make people understand that the loss in these kinds of cases is far more than the pure economic loss.”
– From an interview with Michael Jainchill, Esq. of RisCassi & Davis, Hartford, CT recorded June 2018
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“Scrapbooks are all we have of her now.”
The haunting words spoken by a dear friend of a woman struck and killed by a car in 2015 are among many uttered by her loved ones in a emotional settlement video produced by Geomatrix Productions for the Stamford law firm of Wocl Leydon, LLC.
The video touched the criminal judge in the case so much that it brought her to tears.
On a late summer afternoon the 33-year-old Ansonia, Connecticut woman was driving her car in Woodbridge when she was involved in a minor motor vehicle accident. She was standing on the road near the back of her car when she was struck by an elderly man – a retired physician – driving a third vehicle. She suffered critical injuries and died at the scene.
Thoughtfully edited photo montages and interviews with the victim’s mother, brother, cousin and friends told the story of an ambitious, adventurous, fun loving young woman, with a zest for life and a love of music—a woman who earned a degree in elementary education and child psychology and who lived for the children she took care of as a professional nanny.
“We hired you to care for our son, but you cared for me and for my husband. You calmed me, and you calmed him.” This note, written by one of the woman’s clients, was an emotional tribute that Geomatrix graphically included in the settlement video.
The woman’s loved ones spoke of her passion for scrapbooking—for wanting to make sure all of her memories were preserved. Accompanied by video of many scrapbooks with photos of her adventures, the decision makers in the case were able to get an intimate glimpse into her life. They also were able to see what would never be, including video of her bucket list with nothing crossed off.
A touching shot of the woman’s tombstone and video of a rainbow that appeared the day she was buried brought home the finality of this tragedy.
“I knew that I wanted to send an emotional and powerful message both to the insurance company and to the defense attorney on the other side and I knew that Geomatrix would be able to do that for me,” said Attorney Nicholas E. Wocl, who handled the case for the family. “I wanted to convey how beloved and full of life this woman was, and Geomatrix was able to portray that.”
The video helped settle the civil case with no litigation. The insurance adjuster commented on how well done it was. And because the defendant was charged with vehicular manslaughter, Attorney Wocl showed it to the criminal defense lawyer, the prosecutor, and the probation officer. The judge was so overcome by the video, she realized she would break down during the sentencing and typed out everything she wanted to say beforehand. At the request of the family he did not serve time, but did have to abide by other demands. In the end of this heartbreaking case, the defendant viewed the video himself with the family. During the sentencing the judge, the prosecutor and Atty. Wocl were overcome by emotion. Attorney Wocl says it was all set off by the video.
“It was extraordinarily powerful, it was extraordinarily effective, but not over the top. It was balanced, and very appropriately done. The video did everything that I could ever hope for,” added Atty. Wocl.
A settlement video is the only way to portray hearts that are empty due to the loss of a loved one; the only way to impact decision makers by letting them see the tears shed by a parent; the only way to show a smiling face that has been silenced. Let Geomatrix Legal Video Services honor your client’s life by producing a settlement video for your next wrongful death or injury case.Read more
by Geomatrix Productions in Legal Video
In May, 2016, a 74-year-old New York man and his wife were driving from New York to Connecticut in anticipation of attending their grandson’s baptism. As they rounded a bend in the road, an SUV driven by a 19-year-old male crossed the center line and struck them head-on. Their car crashed into the guardrails and he died at the scene from massive blunt force trauma. The man’s wife was seriously injured and to date she has undergone at least five surgeries.
The law firm of D’Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC of Watertown, Connecticut, representing the estate of the man, engaged Geomatrix Productions to produce a settlement video in the matter. After interviewing the man’s wife, children, family members and pastor, Geomatrix combined these stories with compelling photos from his life to create a settlement video that was key to winning his family a multi-million dollar settlement, allowing them to move forward with their lives.
According to Attorney Mike D’Amico:
“We recently hired Geomatrix, who we have worked with for decades, to create a settlement video for a tragic wrongful death. Geomatrix was able to powerfully communicate the family bonds and friendships that shaped the decedent’s life, and the music, ministry and motorcycles that he enjoyed so much. The video was instrumental in settling the legal claims for the full liability policy limits of $5.3 million, and in avoiding protracted litigation for his surviving widow and family. Jeremy (Attorney Jeremy D’Amico) and I seldom have a wrongful death case where we do not ask Geomatrix to create a life video. It is a powerful settlement tool.”
Settlement videos can convey the devastation from loss of life in a way no other means can. A well thought-out video testimonial to a lost loved one captures the essence of the decedent’s life. Using photographs and carefully selected interview clips from family and friends, Geomatrix Productions creatively weaves a thread that tells the person’s life story with respect and sensitivity. The video also illustrates what the decedent and their family are now missing due to their tragic wrongful death. These poignant videos can be used at mediation or can be provided to the insurance adjuster and defense counsel.
If you want to win more and win bigger, Geomatrix Legal Video Services will help give you the winning edge.Read more