As reported by KXLF, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion on March 17, 2015, unanimously upholding a $3.97 Million jury verdict rendered for a Missoula man and wife in 2014.
Allen Ginn suffered a brain injury, among other injuries, when a log fell on him at a Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. mill in 2008. Ginn, a logger, was injured while he delivered a truckload of logs to the mill. The catastrophic injuries Ginn suffered required him to incur extensive medical bills and caused him to lose his logging business.
Ginn argued that Smurfit-Stone negligently caused his injuries by failing to implement proper safety measures to secure the logs. However, Smurfit-Stone repeatedly failed to respond to the lawsuit which was served upon it which resulted in the trial court entering default against Smurfit-Stone on the issue of liability. Months later, a jury was empanelled to determine the amount of damages suffered by Ginn.
After a four-day trial in Missoula County District Court, the jury awarded Ginn and his wife $3.97 Million which included damages for past and future medical care, lost earnings, physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of established course of life, and loss of consortium of Ginn’s wife.
Following the verdict, Smurfit Stone appealed the trial court’s entry of the default. However, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling, finding that Smurfit willfully refused to respond to the lawsuit that had been served on it. The Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the jury’s damage award to the Ginns, because Smurfit-Stone did not appeal any issue but the default.
“This has been a long and torturous process for the Ginns, but this judgment will go a long way in helping Allen and his family move past this tragedy,” said the Plaintiffs’ attorney, Kurt Jackson of Hoyt and Blewett PLLC in Great Falls.