After many years of hard work, and a pandemic, we're overjoyed by the outcome of this case.
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Full Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 8, 2021
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA
G. VERNE GOODSELLVERNE@GOODSELLOVIATT.COM
PRESS RELEASE - FERN JOHNSON v. Liberty Mutual and UPS
A Pennington County jury returned a 42-million-dollar verdict against Liberty Mutual and UPS for reprehensible behavior for intentionally denying medical benefits they were ordered to be provided to an injured worker.
In 2004 and 2006, the Department of Labor and the Circuit Court had ordered Liberty Mutual and UPS to pay for medical benefits in 2009. The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed those orders making them final judgments that Liberty Mutual and UPS must follow.
Liberty Mutual and UPS defied the orders and denied medical benefits to the injured worker without going through the Department to modify the order.
The same case, Johnson v. UPS and Liberty Mutual, was tried before a Pennington County jury in November of 2017. That jury returned a verdict for 45 million dollars. The case was appealed by Liberty Mutual. The South Dakota Supreme Court sent the case back to the Circuit Court for a retrial. The retrial was delayed because of Covid.
The attorneys for the plaintiff, Fern Johnson, were G. Verne Goodsell, David Barari, and Nate Oviatt, of the Goodsell & Oviatt, LLP, law firm in Rapid City. David Barari, lead attorney, commented, "It is very meaningful to have the second jury confirm the bad conduct of Liberty Mutual and UPS by arriving at a similar verdict."
Senior partner, Verne Goodsell, says, "The consistency of the two verdicts confirms that our community will not tolerate bad and reckless behavior by insurance companies who harm our citizens, particularly when the companies pocket the money for medical care that belongs to the injured worker.
Trial team attorney and partner, Nate Oviatt, commented, "The people have spoken clearly that in South Dakota the Rule of Law and the Orders of our Courts are not mere suggestions."