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Mitchell v. Manzer

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 10, 2014

CYNTHIA MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL MANZER, Defendant.

FINAL FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

WILLIAM J. MARTINEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Cynthia Mitchell ("Plaintiff") brings this personal injury action against Defendant Michael Manzer ("Defendant"). (Compl. (ECF No. 1).) As a result of Defendant's failure to defend, Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment was granted with respect to liability on May 3, 2013. (ECF No. 43.) An evidentiary hearing on the issue of damages was held on March 12, 2014. (ECF No. 64.) Plaintiff testified on her own behalf, and called the following as witnesses: Dr. Mark Bronsky, Dr. Brian Apatoff, Danielle Grafas, and Lauren Margiano. (ECF No. 66.) Defendant did not appear at the hearing. ( Id. ) The following are the Court's final findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the award of damages.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. The Collision

1. On February 24, 2012, Plaintiff was skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado on a ski vacation with several members of her family and friends, including her stepsister, Danielle Grafas. (Testimony of Plaintiff; Testimony of Danielle Grafas.)

2. Plaintiff was slowly traversing the slope toward the chairlift at the end of a ski run when Defendant, who was descending the run behind Plaintiff at a high speed, collided with her (the "Collision"). (Testimony of Danielle Grafas.) Due to Plaintiff's location next to the edge of the groomed trail, Plaintiff was thrown off of the edge of the trail, down an embankment, and into deep snow. ( Id. )

3. Plaintiff was rendered unconscious and was initially unresponsive. Blood and fragments of teeth were in and around her mouth. ( Id. )

4. The ski patrol transported Plaintiff to the Breckenridge Medical Center, and Plaintiff was then taken by ambulance to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Colorado (the "Hospital"). ( Id. )

5. When Plaintiff arrived at the Hospital, she was diagnosed with the following injuries: subarachnoid hemorrhage status post blunt trauma, left mandibular body and parasymphysis sagittal fracture, dental alveolar fractures of teeth numbers 9, 23, and 24, fracture of tooth number 10, and intraoral laceration of the left mandibular buccal vestibule. (Ex. 3; Testimony of Dr. Bronsky.) In layman's terms, these injuries included a traumatic brain injury, a shattered jaw, and four broken teeth. (Testimony of Dr. Bronsky; Testimony of Dr. Apatoff.)

6. Plaintiff received surgery at the Hospital as a result of her injuries, which included the insertion of screws into her jaw and the use of arch bars on her teeth to tether her jaw shut. This surgery was necessary to stabilize and permit her jaw and teeth to heal successfully, and to subsequently function normally. (Testimony of Dr. Bronsky.)

7. In total, Plaintiff has incurred $150, 716.32 in necessary medical expenses as a result of the Collision. (Exs. 5, 5a-5p; Testimony of Plaintiff.)

B. Orthodontic Treatment After Collision

8. Plaintiff's jaw was tethered shut for approximately three months after the Collision, during which time she could not talk normally and was required to eat a purely liquid diet. (Testimony of Plaintiff; Testimony of Dr. Bronsky.)

9. For more than a year and a half after the Collision, Plaintiff required specialized braces and used customized retainers on her teeth to maintain the alignment of her teeth and jaw. (Ex. 6; Testimony of Dr. Bronsky.) Plaintiff will need to use customized retainers for the rest of her life. (Testimony of Dr. Bronsky.) 10. The screws in Plaintiff's jaw will remain ...


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