Gambling in Vegas is always precarious when playing against the house. It appears the same is true in both the courts and the casinos. Glenn Richardson sued Mandalay Bay resort for personal injuries sustained near the hotel pool. The hotel offered a $2.5 million offer and Richardson surprisingly turned it down and instead opted to go to a verdict. He received just $524,000 from the jury — a $2 million loss.
The tort action itself was unassailable. In 2015, Richardson was struck down near the Mandalay Bay pool by a sign being erected for a forthcoming event. It pinned him to the floor and caused traumatic brain injury with cognitive and memory loss as well as spinal and knee injuries requiring surgery.
His counsel asked for $10 million in damages for past pain and suffering, $20 million in future pain and suffering, and $2.1 million to cover lost wages and medical expenses. He also asked the jury award $3 million to his wife for past and future loss of consortium.
His attorney, Adam Breeden, said he intends to appeal the verdict.
17 thoughts on “Bad Bet: Plaintiff Turns Down $2.5 Million Offer From Mandalay Bay . . . Jury Then Awards Just $500,000”
If it goes to court does his lawyers fee goes from %30 to %50 of the settlement
Typically it starts with a third of ALL monies, received or to be received. That is to say if the insurance company pays out for a car repair, medical costs, or any other pay outs without contesting, then the lawyer will want a third of that regardless of the fact that he or she did nothing to get it. The basic agreement typically is presented as a third of any settlement. The settlement includes everything. The 33 1/3% jumps to 46% if it goes to court. If you engage a lawyer on a contingency basis they will file for a court appearance immediately after presenting the claim to the insurance company. This is to put the insurance company on the spot, establish a time line, and raise the lawyer’s fees. If this minuscule cost move is done and then followed by an acceptable offer then the lawyer gets the extra 13% for doing next to nothing. This means that when a lawyer says that they only take a third that means 46%.
The costs of experts, doctors, etc comes off the top or sometimes out of the client’s percentage. One important clause in the agreement is that the client cannot refuse any acceptable offer. That puts the lawyer into the decision making of how much is acceptable. This typically is set by precedent. One toe equals so much, two toes equals so much, etc. This brings the return on time and energy of the lawyer versus the percentage of the settlement, which is now 46%. Lawyers will move for an industry standard settlement which represents the least amount of time and trouble for them. If a policy has a cap of $100,000-typical of most auto insurance per person pay outs the insurance industry will sooner rather than later cave at $60K to $70K. To settle for the max quickly is not in their best interests and they will stall. This places the lawyer in the position to push for a quick settlement of 54% of $60K or $70K for the client with a minimum of effort and time or fight for whatever is gained of the rest. The return on the time and effort investment of the lawyer is much greater for the initial $60K to $70K than of whatever is accomplished over that. The ‘reasonable’ offer typically is the most profitable for the lawyer and not so much what is in the interest of the client. The ‘reasonable’ offer is typically understood before hand by precedent between the lawyer and the insurance company; sometimes it includes the expense of taking the agent to lunch.
One route, that I have personally taken, is to understand this; then deal directly with the insurance company. They will typically change agents as many times as you let them get away with it. The first time they tell you that ‘That agent is not longer handling the case. A new agent has been appointed and will get in touch with you.’, you contact the State Insurance Commissioner and file a bad faith complaint. That will typically end that stalling technique. You can, for a nominal fee, file for a court date yourself. In the end you may not get more than the precedent set 60 t0 70% but you will get it all. In my experience it took a very little more time than experiences with lawyers with which I was familiar and only consisted of the same medical examinations and other interviews, that would have been part of the routine with a lawyer. Look up NOLO for more instances when getting a lawyer is not necessary.
The bottom line is that if you feel at some point you can’t go on, you can get a lawyer. However, most people with a little patience and tenacity can get through the average claim. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. This is from personal experience. Some lawyers actually do fight for their clients and if the claim is substantial and the lawyer is honest, then that could very well be the best way to approach the situation.
I’m sure that all the contingency agreement are different in order to comply with the bar rules, statutes and regulation government such agreements. For instance, in Texas, the client makes the decision whether to accept a settlement offer–with not restrictions. The lawyer’s remedy is to disengage from an unreasonable client, but Texas law allowed for that lawyer to have a lien on the file, such that if/when it settles, that lawyer will get his pro rata fee and costs.
Was the jury put up at the Mandalay during the trial?
Something that is the mainstay of most lawsuits, albeit at far lower claims, is soft tissue damage. This sort of damage leaves the spine out of whack and often results in vertebrae being fused together later. This often results in excruciating pain as the body skeleton functions off balance. This often results in absences from work, limited mobility, and further operations, therapy, etc. Soft tissue damage is often the result of a car accident and does not appear in its worst forms until later in life.
From what Turley posted, this guy seems to have had injuries much worse. By taking the $2.5mil then take off the 40%+ for the legal fees and the guy is left with a little under a million and a half. With this he may be able to work but most likely will face hundreds of thousands in medical bills and a life somewhat ruined by the hotel’s negligence.
The compromise should include lesser legal fees. No lawyer is worth fifteen million in a case like this. Doctors and a jury are all that one needs. The guy could have negotiated alone the $2.5 mil offer and even bumped it up. In most states if you don’t get a lawyer the Insurance Commissioner will monitor the negotiations and go after the hotel’s insurance company for bad faith moves and as well go after the plaintiff for fraud. The guy should end up with five million after all costs. The hotel should be on the hook for his medical costs for the rest of his life. If he recovers and needs little to no further medical treatment then that’s fair. I doubt he will scam the system by having unnecessary operations and several hours a week of therapy.
In today’s litigious society just as with health care, the government should be in there monitoring, regulating, and finessing ambulance chasers. If the lawyer, with a slam dunk case like this is supposed to be, gets two or there million then he has made out like a bandit. In this case he was going after far more, fifteen million +. Perhaps this is what caught the jury’s attention.
I’d like to hear your take on “lawyers” if you ever have to face similar circumstances.
Traumatic brain injury is a fuzzy area, easily manipulated by patients. Maybe the jury got a whiff the brain injury was bogus and took it out on plaintiff. I’ve seen it happen in cases I’ve worked.
Greed strikes again.
Jury trials are won when you pick the jury. You ask them about attitudes which they have on matters relevant to the case. Then you ya with them and relate to them about issues in the case so that they relate to you. Talk about what “damages” are as opposed to some “fine”. “My guy here has to live with this broken L-5 vertebrae for the rest of his life and will not walk again. If he can’t walk he cannot go back to his job as a retail clerk at Schnucks. He is losing $25 dollars an hour, 40 hours a week plus overtime and so are his wife and kids.”
We really do not know how much permanent damage was done to him to know if he turned down a legitimate offer. Mandalay Bay may have just been offering at the top of their insurance cap.
That’s not the point. Legitimate or not, he was offered $2.5 million and turned it down hoping for more. It was a gamble on getting more money, and it was a gamble which he lost. Based on how badly he lost it, that is based on the jury’s impression, his turn down was pretty greedy.
Bill H – let’s say I estimate my medical bills as X and my legal bills as Y. I also estimate my future medical bills as Xx10. Now, totally that all up and subtracting what my lawyer(s) is getting leaves me less than 2.5 mill. So, I turn down the offer because it is not reasonable. And I haven’t gotten to pain and suffering. You know this will be appealed. How can you not?
He should think twice. On appeal, he may get reduced to 250K.
Depending on his estimated future meds, 2.5 million might not have been nearly enough; we don’t know the extent of his brain damage.
If the jury is to be interviewed I often wonder when plaintiffs in personal injury cases demand tens of millions for non-economic claims such as pain & suffering and punitive damages they might come to view such claims as being fluff and hubris and then resort to strictly applying only concrete, indisputable financial costs such as current medical bills and previously lost wages to levy against the defendant. If instead the plaintiffs might have been more “reasonable” in their non-economic demands such as perhaps a hundred grand in pain & suffering the jury might have instead identified with that cost and awarded it outright, without much deliberation.
I am interested in what our personal injury attorneys here experienced in their cases.
Juries in Las Vegas always play the house.
I recommend staying far, far away.
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