Carson City woman awarded $1 million in Nugget lawsuit
A Carson City woman will get nearly $1 million in damages because of injuries suffered when a valet parking attendant backed into her at the Carson Nugget.
The civil jury of five men and four women deliberated nearly five hours Friday night before awarding Christine Rasner $1,007,000. But her lawyer, Stewart White, said the panel found her partly responsible and reduced the award to $725,000.
White said, however, both sides had agreed to upper and lower limits to damages in the case before trial. The upper limit for the case was $2 million but the lower limit was set at $970,000.
White said that means she will receive $970,000 in damages.
“The family is certainly happy,” he said. “The jury was very generous with her medical expenses and it’s enough money to move back into her own home and be well taken care of.”
He said he was a bit surprised the jury found contributory negligence on Rasner’s part since the attendant backed into her.
No punitive damages were allowed in the case since the accident was unintentional and the attendant, Sammy Phelps, even looked in the rear view mirror of the SUV before he backed up.
Rasner and her fiancé, Troy Price, now 81, were going to lunch at the Nugget on March 15, 2003 when the accident occurred. Price escaped with cuts and bruises but Rasner, now 68, was seriously injured, suffering a lacerated liver, broken ribs and head injuries.
Neurologists testified during the trial those injuries aggravated an already serious brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s. Because her treatment required taking her off medications that slow that progressive disease, physicians say she suffered a stroke, further decreasing her ability to walk, drive and live independently. She is currently in a Carson City rest home.
“I think she lost ground as a consequence of the accident,” said Reno neurologist William McHugh, one of the final witnesses in the case.
“I don’t think she ever got back to the full independent life she had before,” he said.
District Judge William Maddox sent the case to the jury of five men and four women Friday just after 5 p.m. They returned a verdict at 10 p.m.
— Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.