December 15, 2006. This morning a Stamford jury awarded a Texas woman $2.475 million dollars for multiple injuries that she sustained in a night time fall down darkened stairs. The most serious injury sustained by Nancy Bayard (age 74), now of Austin, Texas, was a brain injury. Not only was there tragedy because of the fall and consequent injuries but the tragedy was compounded because the fall occurred in the home of one of her daughters and son-in-law, Haviland and James Whitcomb of Southport, CT who were found to be 60% resposnible for Ms. Bayard’s injuries. The suit was brought on Ms. Bayard’s behalf by another daughter, Alexia Dauterive, also of Austin, who is Ms. Bayard’s court appointed guardian.

The jury deliberated about 1 1/2 days following a 2 1/2 week trial. During the trial, Ms. Bayard’s attorneys, Stewart M. Casper and Jeremy C. Virgil presented testimony from a neuroradiologist, a neurosurgeon, a neuropsychologist, a human factors expert, a certified life care planner and a professional photographer. The critical issue involved a lack of night time lighting leading to a guest bathroom and it was believed that without lighting available, Ms. Bayard missed the bathroom door and instead fell down a steep unlit stairway.

Ms. Bayard’s attorney Stewart Casper of Stamford said that: “the tragedy of this case was compounded by the fact that two insurance companies that together had sold $3 million of liability insurance protection to the Whitcomb’s refused to ever offer more than $500,000 to resolve this claim when it was clear that Ms. Bayard’s healthcare costs would exceed $1 million. The jury actually found the damages to be over $4 million but reduced the award for Ms. Bayard’s comparative negligence.” The result was a prolonged trial that on its face pitted one sister against another when in reality the sisters have a wonderful relationship. Casper said: “It is truly unfortunat when the greed of insurance companies trumps the real and legitimate needs of their customers and family members and forces them into a courtroom for justice.”