Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Record Multimillion-Dollar Settlement Reached For Susman Godfrey Partner's Traumatic Brain Injury - Above the Law

Brook A.M. Taylor (Photo via Susman Godfrey)

What happens when your legal mind is far superior to all others, but it’s been catastophically injured in a tragic accident? You win tens of millions of dollars in a personal injury settlement — a settlement so large that it’s likely the most that’s ever been paid to an individual in state history, and among the largest ever paid to an individual in the United States.

Meet Brooke A.M. Taylor, who at just 38 years old had already become a renowned partner in the Seattle, Washington, office of leading litigation boutique Susman Godfrey. A member of the firm’s executive committee, she was considered a rising star in the world IP litigation, but in April 2016, her seemingly limitless opportunities for success were cut short through no fault of her own in a horrific car accident.

Crosscut has the details on the accident that rendered Taylor unable to practice law:

The crash occurred April 24, 2016, at about 1:25 p.m. Taylor was driving westbound on Seneca Street downtown in a black Porsche Carrera, according to accounts from multiple police reports. At the same time, a Seattle Fire Department ambulance was driving northbound on Fourth Avenue with its lights and sirens on. The ambulance entered the intersection at Seneca and Fourth through a red light at the same time as Taylor. The driver of the ambulance told officers that he “either stopped or slowed” at the intersection and believed it was clear before entering.

About halfway through the intersection, the ambulance hit Taylor’s Porsche on the driver’s side, spinning it around, up onto the sidewalk and up against a tree, according to police reports.

Taylor was knocked unconscious and sent to a Harborview Medical Center operating room in “very critical” condition. No one in the ambulance was seriously injured.

Taylor suffered such a traumatic brain injury that her trating physicians thought she would likely die. However, over the course of the past two and a half years, she has gone through extensive brain surgery, spending months out of state at inpatient rehabilitation centers for her injuries. She receives round-the-clock care, and her family is eagerly awaiting her return in the home they’ve been forced to remodel so she can continue to receive the care she needs due to the extent of her injuries.

Taylor’s family sought the usual compensation in their case against the city for her injuries, including reimbursement for lost future income, which for an attorney of her ilk, was boundless. After all, Susman Godfrey’s website boasts of having recently “achieved the highest profit-per-partner results in the nation” (i.e., more than $1 million per year, and likely even higher than that thanks to the firm’s success).

Thanks to the handiwork of her lawyer, Todd Gardner of Swanson Gardner Meyers, Taylor received a settlement of $65.75 million from the city of Seattle, the largest settlement of its kind in city and likely state history. A city spokesperson said her income history was a “significant factor” in the settlement amount, but in an interview with the Seattle Times, Gardner said it was “really because how remarkable Brooke Taylor was as an individual and an attorney. She had national reputation and had separated herself in her field. She was probably the most accomplished attorney in her age group in this state, in addition to being a great wife and mom.”

Taylor is readying herself for her transition home, and Gardner says her doctors are “very impressed that she has recovered the function she has.” We here at Above the Law wish Brooke A.M. Taylor continued success in her recovery from her injuries. As her lawyer notes, “She’s just a fighter.” Keep up the fight and keep holding out hope.

Seattle pays record-breaking $65.7M to victim of ambulance crash [Crosscut]
Seattle OKs record $65.7 million settlement for attorney injured in crash with Fire Department ambulance [Seattle Times]

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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