June 18, 2018
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Patten woman awarded more than half million in damages for car accident

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PATTEN, Maine — A Patten woman has been awarded monetary damages in her case against an insurance company after she filed a claim for injuries suffered in a car accident more than three years ago.

Lynne Porter, 56, was awarded $525,000 on Thursday after a three-day jury trial in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

Porter filed a claim against State Farm Insurance Company. James O’Connell, an attorney for the firm Berman & Simmons, represented Porter.

Porter was injured on Jan. 16, 2009, when she was driving her mother and her elderly, cancer-stricken father home from the hospital on U.S. Route 1 in Houlton. An unknown driver drove through a stop sign on a side street and veered into her path. Porter stopped quickly to avoid colliding with the car, but an SUV driven by Sheila Murchie skidded into the back of Porter’s truck.

The collision caused Porter to suffer injuries to her back, which eventually caused her to become permanently disabled from work.

State Farm disputed that Porter’s injuries were related to the car accident.

O’Connell acknowledged Friday evening that the case was complicated. He said that Murchie was underinsured, and the unknown driver was never identified.

“He or she may not have even known that they caused an accident,” he said.

Porter worked for Irving Woodlands operating heavy equipment. She returned to work for the company after the accident in 2009, her attorney said on Friday evening, despite having continuing pain. In Jan. 2010, however, a piece of equipment she was operating became stuck in the snow. Porter had to work hard to free the equipment, and it exacerbated the injury she suffered in the accident.

“It led to her being unable to work at all,” said O’Connell.

O’Connell said that State Farm was represented at the trial by Hal Stewart, a Presque Isle attorney. State Farm disputed that Porter’s injuries were related to the car accident.

Stewart was not available for comment on the case Friday evening.

A jury found that State Farm was liable for the negligence of both Murchie and the unknown driver and awarded Porter $525,000 in compensation, according to a press release from Berman & Simmons.

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