On October 30, 2016, Michael Davis and his father-in-law R. Foster Hinds were installing a tree stand for deer hunting on property in upstate Canisteo owned by Mr. Hinds and his wife. After the stand was installed, Mr. Davis stepped onto its platform to test it and a defective ratchet strap broke causing him to fall and sustain serious back injuries.
In Mr. Davis’s ensuing non-jury lawsuit, the judge in Steuben County determined that Mr. and Mrs. Hinds were negligent and he awarded plaintiff pain and suffering damages in the sum of $325,000 ($100,000 past – five years, $225,000 future -22 years).
Defendants appealed but, in Davis v. Hinds (4th Dept. 2023), the judgment was affirmed (except that the claims against Mrs. Hinds were dismissed).
Here are the injury details:
- L-1, L-3 and L-4 fractures
- Spinal fusion surgery T10-S1
- Continuing pain, limitations as to standing and lifting and, unable to resume recreational activities
- There was no expert medical testimony adduced at trial; instead, the parties agreed to use medical records only.
- In his closing argument, plaintiff’s attorney asked the judge to award $400,000 for pain and suffering damages.
- Plaintiff, 47 years old at the time of his accident, returned to work within three months as a high school physical education teacher and did not assert any claims for lost earnings (or medical expenses).