Firm News

Burg Simpson Clients Awarded More Than $7.3 Million in Federal Tort Claims Act Trial for Traumatic Brain Injury and Other Damages

By Burg Simpson

May 16, 2014  

Civil Action No. 11-cv-02953-WYD-MEH – James Nelson and Elizabeth Varney v. United States of America

The United States District Court for the District of Colorado has awarded Burg Simpson’s clients James Nelson and Elizabeth Varney more than $7.3 million in damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act after Mr. Nelson sustained a severe and permanent traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a bicycle accident on the property of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Mr. Nelson was riding his bicycle on an asphalt bicycle path on the property of the United States Air Force Academy on September 3, 2008, when he encountered a sinkhole, was thrown to the ground, and sustained a severe TBI and other permanent life-altering injuries. More than 12 hours elapsed before Mr. Nelson was eventually discovered by a jogger and then transported to the hospital to receive life-saving medical attention.

Following a week-long trial in December 2013, Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel ruled in favor of the plaintiffs finding the United States liable for Mr. Nelson’s injuries. Judge Daniel ruled that the Air Force Academy “knew or should have known” about the existence of the sinkhole on its property, and that it was the Academy’s responsibility to properly maintain the bike path. A second week-long trial was conducted by Judge Daniel at the end of April 2014 to determine the level of economic, non-economic, and compensatory damages to be awarded to Mr. Nelson and Ms. Varney.

Mr. Nelson and Ms. Varney were represented in court by Burg Simpson shareholders David P. Hersh and Steven G. Greenlee. On May 14, 2014, Judge Daniel entered his written judgment finding in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them in excess of $7.3 million.

Mr. Hersh said, “I am so pleased that after a long and hard battle of nearly six years, justice was done. Hopefully this judgment will help Jim and Elizabeth continue to rebuild their lives after the devastating injuries Jim suffered.” Mr. Hersh continued, “We are all grateful to Judge Daniel for his diligence in navigating the complexities of the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Colorado Premises Liability Act, and the Colorado Recreational Use Statute as they pertained to the facts of this case. I am honored to represent these good people, and pleased that Judge Daniel saw fit to award Jim and Elizabeth damages that will adequately compensate them for Jim’s lifelong injuries, his loss of earnings, and the extensive amount of medical treatment and care he will continue to need in the years ahead.”

With offices in Denver, Steamboat Springs, Cincinnati, Cody, and Phoenix, Burg Simpson is a firm of award-winning trial lawyers practicing in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, mass tort, class actions, insurance bad faith, employment law, construction defect litigation, and commercial litigation.


View the official Press Release

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