OAKLAND COUNTY JURY AWARDS $24/HOUR FOR FAMILY PROVIDED ATTENDANT CARE TO A QUADRIPLEGIC
The case of Reid v Progressive Michigan Insurance Company was recently tried in Oakland County Circuit Court before Judge Denise Langford-Morris. The claimant, Steven Reid, was injured in December 2006 and was rendered a C5 quadriplegic. Upon discharge from Beaumont Hospital, he was cared for by his niece/guardian, Jackie Clayton. Progressive voluntarily paid $16.00/hour, 24 hours per day to Ms. Clayton.
A lawsuit was commenced alleging that Progressive refused to pay the full value of the attendant care. Plaintiff’s counsel obtained an expert, Renee LaPorte, who valued the case at $45.00/hour. A second expert, Dr. Robert Ancell, valued the care at $40.00 to $50.00 per hour. A third expert, Laura Kling, R.N. agreed with Dr. Ancell.
Progressive offered to increase the rate to $20.00/hour on the morning of trial. Progressive’s experts assessed the care at the skill level of a home health aide/high tech aide and testified to employee rates for such care in the market place at $12.00 to $18.00/hour.
The jury, which was extremely attentive, returned a verdict reflecting an hourly rate of $24.00/hour. The jury rejected plaintiff’s request for penalty interest which pursuant to Allard v State Farm2 precludes any claim for attorney fees under MCL 500.3148(1).
In speaking to the jury following the verdict, there were several important comments:
These attendant care cases are complex and difficult to try. Nonetheless, if the insurer has made a fair and reasonable determination as to the number of hours and the appropriate hourly rate, jurors are not inclined to award agency rates as the reasonable value of attendant care by family members.