D’Lugo, Crews and Panepinto prevail in appellate matter


Wicker Smith (Central Florida)

Wicker Smith Orlando Partner Michael D’Lugo and Naples Partners Kevin Crews and Heidi Panepinto, recently prevailed in an appellate matter heard by the Florida Sixth District Court of Appeal.

The underlying matter involved injuries allegedly sustained in a dog bite incident that occurred on a Naples boat dock in April 2017. Plaintiff claimed that he suffered injuries to his hip, back, and neck, as a result of the incident; and, over 18 months after the initial injury, added claims of a TBI.

Liability was admitted, but causation and damages were hotly disputed, as the dog in question weighed less than 8 pounds. Efforts to settle the case failed, and the case was tried in Lee County, Florida, in March 2022.

Crews and Panepinto were able to obtain several rulings favorable to the defense prior to trial, including a Motion in Limine that limited eyewitness testimony regarding the fall, and a Daubert Motion that precluded Plaintiff’s neuropsychology expert from opining as to the causation of the alleged TBI.

After a four-day trial, the plaintiff’s counsel asked for $3.3 million in closing. The jury returned an award of $65,000 for the Plaintiff and $25,000 for the consortium claim made by his wife.

Plaintiffs appealed the jury’s verdict, arguing, among other things, that the Motion in Limine and Daubert rulings had been improper. D’Lugo wrote and filed the Answer Brief in February 2023.

On February 27, 2024, the Sixth District Court of Appeal issued a per curiam affirmance of the Final Judgment entered in favor of our clients pursuant to the jury verdict rendered in 2022 and upheld each of the trial court rulings that had been contested by the Plaintiffs.

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