Berman & Simmons Trial Attorneys emerged from the pandemic into the courtroom winning over $36.5 million in verdicts for their clients between September 2022 and February 2023. This is purported to be the largest collection of trial wins over the shortest duration of time by a law firm in New England and displays the extraordinary talent and capabilities within our firm.
“A trial culture and track record of success at trial have been at the core of our identity for many years and even more so now that courts have opened back up,” says Managing Director Craig Bramley. “Our attorneys value the civil justice system and believe that all our clients have a right to their day in court. We have an aggressive and formidable team focused on obtaining great results for our injured clients and their families, as proven by these impressive wins.”
Attorney Chuck Hehmeyer Secures Record $25 Million Award for Catastrophically Injured Pennsylvania Motorcyclist Travis Sweigart – November 2022
Hehmeyer’s history-making award of $25 million, decided unanimously by a federal jury for his client Travis on November 3, 2022, was the highest award ever recorded for a Maine attorney trying a case out-of-state. The sizable monetary award was of a magnitude more typically seen in mass tort litigation.
Holding Voyager Trucking Corporation Accountable
Travis was catastrophically injured in a motorcycle crash involving a Voyager Trucking Corporation tractor-trailer driven by the defendant. The tractor-trailer driver was on his cell phone at the time of the accident and failed to use proper stopping precautions when he turned in front of the motorcycle Sweigart was driving. In this case, which hinged on determining which driver was responsible for the crash, Hehmeyer showed that the defense presented an inaccurate reconstruction of the near-fatal collision. In the end, the jury found the tractor-trailer driver was 95% responsible for the accident.
Travis Suffered Life-Altering Injuries
Travis suffered devastating lower-body injuries, including a crushed pelvis, which required him to undergo a below-knee, right-leg amputation, and will likely require a similar operation for his left leg. During the trial, a surgeon testified that Travis’ injuries were the worst that he had ever witnessed a person survive. When faced with the graphic nature of the injury in medical illustrations, one juror fainted and had to be removed from the jury.
Attorneys Jodi Nofsinger and Susan Faunce Win $6.5 Million Jury Award for Family of Peter Smith – February 2023
Mercy Hospital in Portland and one of its emergency medicine specialists, Dr. John Henson, were ordered by a Cumberland County jury to pay $6.5 million to the family of 25-year-old wrongful death victim Peter Smith, whose Lyme Disease and Lyme Carditis were misdiagnosed. The award came after the jury deliberated for just a few hours.
Peter visited the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Portland in June 2017, complaining of fever, rashes, chills, dizziness, and headaches, as well as an “initial lesion of the rash” that appeared “slightly target shape,” a common indicator of the tick-borne illness. After examining Peter, Dr. Henson misdiagnosed him with a basic viral illness and erythema multiforme, a skin disorder also characterized by bulls-eye-shaped lesions. He even noted in Peter’s medical records that there was “no sign of Lyme Disease.” When Peter’s rash failed to clear up, he returned to the doctor, still suffering from the same skin problem. Peter was once again given the same misdiagnosis and a diagnosis of hives.
Needless Death of a Promising Young Man
Peter was hospitalized five days later at Maine Medical Center with worsening conditions. He was finally correctly given an accurate diagnosis of Lyme Disease and Lyme carditis when a different medical team examined him. Sadly, it was a diagnosis that arrived too late. Smith died about a week later from complications associated with Lyme disease.
Mercy Hospital Held Accountable for Their Misdiagnosis
Attorneys Jodi Nofsinger and Susan Faunce of Berman & Simmons were thankful that the jury held the liable parties accountable for Peter’s avoidable, tragic loss of life. Nothing can return Peter to his loved ones. But the firm gains comfort in the knowledge that justice was served and that the verdict may discourage this kind of medical negligence, making wrongful deaths like Peter’s less common.
Note: Lyme carditis occurs in approximately one out of every 100 Lyme disease cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only 11 fatal cases had been recorded worldwide between 1985 and 2019.
Attorney Travis Brennan Achieves $5 Million Trial Win for Joshua Desjardins – September 2022
In the first in-person civil courtroom case since pandemic rules were lifted, a Cumberland County jury awarded Joshua Desjardins of Bowdoinham, Maine, $5 million after they unanimously decided that Brunswick, Maine’s Mid Coast Hospital, and BlueWater Emergency Partners, LLC, were responsible for the medical negligence that left Desjardins with life-altering injuries. Lewiston, ME Attorney Travis Brennan represented Joshua. BlueWater Emergency Partners provides contracted medical staff to Mid Coast Hospital, including the Mid Coast Hospital Walk-in Clinic.
A Harrowing Journey Through a Potentially Deadly Health Condition
Joshua arrived at Mid Coast Hospital’s Walk-in Clinic during the holidays in December 2018 displaying warning signs that foreshadowed a potentially deadly health condition. One of the medical providers from BlueWater Emergency Partners of Maine, who was working at the Mid Coast Hospital Walk-In Clinic, was caring for Desjardins. The BlueWater staff member disregarded the red flags that Joshua was clearly exhibiting and diagnosed him with the flu. According to attorney Travis Brennan of Berman & Simmons, a physician’s assistant examined Joshua and instructed him to come back if his symptoms had not improved within ten days.
As Desjardins’ condition continued to decline, he returned to the emergency room at Mid Coast Hospital. The medical staff there performed a chest X-ray that showed he was suffering from pneumonia. In addition to these findings, it was determined that he was also suffering from sepsis and acute respiratory failure. Because of the medical neglect he suffered, Joshua became increasingly ill. He was intubated and then transported by LifeFlight of Maine to Maine Medical Center. Over the next two days, his very serious condition accelerated, and he was placed on life support. He was then required to undergo a tracheotomy.
Court documents reveal that Joshua remained hospitalized at Maine Medical Center until February 4, 2019. Although he miraculously survived the incident, he spent 31 days on life support, during which he suffered multiple strokes, septic shock, and a collapsed lung. Joshua’s life-altering ordeal left him with injuries he will always struggle to overcome.
BlueWater Emergency Partners, LLC, and Mid Coast Hospital Held Accountable
During the trial, Attorney Travis Brennan claimed a breach of duty of care and proved to the jury that the BlueWater healthcare professionals did not adequately diagnose his client. They failed to request a chest X-ray, neglected to perform lab work and did not send him to the emergency department as they should have. No one warned Desjardins of how life-threatening his medical condition was at the time.
Because of the exemplary work of attorney Travis Brennan and the trial team from Berman & Simmons, Joshua Desjardins was awarded $5M in economic damages for past pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and emotional distress. Joshua has said that he hopes that the news of his case makes it less likely that others in Maine face the medical nightmare he went through and receive more conscientious care.
Berman & Simmons Can Help You Too
As Maine’s largest and most well-respected personal injury law firm, the attorneys and staff at Berman & Simmons have helped countless clients who have suffered catastrophic and life-altering injuries or death due to the negligence of others. Our trial attorneys specialize exclusively in Plaintiff lawsuits involving medical errors, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, dangerous or unsafe property, defective products, and sex abuse.
If you have been seriously injured due to no fault of your own, we can help. We represent people—no matter their circumstances or backgrounds—who often come to us at the most difficult and challenging times in their lives. In turn, we take on the toughest opponents, including insurance companies, large corporations, and established medical institutions.
Experience | Resources | Results
Berman & Simmons has served the people of Maine for over 100 years and no other Maine law firm can match our depth of talent, expertise, and financial strength. Our results speak for themselves—we have recovered over $1.35 billion for our injured clients.