Home in Freeny, MS, - 1980s
Page 1 By Nancy Sue Reeves
In 1981, while on the job in Morgan City, LA, Joe came out of his trailer, in the rain, and slipped on a sheet of wet plywood. He fell on his old stiff knee, which couldn't bend, and it broke his leg right above the knee. A friend next door heard his scream and got him in his car and took him to the Morgan City hospital. They called me and Harry Caldwell went with me to Morgan city to bring my car back. PHI offered to fly him to Jackson for surgery, but the weather was terrible and they said his shattered bone was sitting right on his artery and any jolt could sever it. We decided to let them do the surgery there, and a couple of days later, I got him in his van and brought him to Jackson to the hospital. After another 8 weeks of recovery and rehab, he passed another physical and went back to work at PHI, again. Joe's right leg was now noticeably shorter than his left, he wore a lift in his right shoe and definitely needed his cane, but he had no trouble flying a helicopter.
Joe talked to the property owner, where his trailer was parked, about filing a claim on his insurance and he gave him the name of his homeowners instead of his business insurance. The company refused to offer anything. Then after he hired a lawyer, they said they didn't have the insurance on the business property. Joe had to start all over with the right insurance company but was already signed with the lawyers. This company also chose not to make an offer until the lawyers had hired several expert witnesses and hired a doctor to testify. Then the day court convened, they offered $100,000. We would have been overjoyed with that a month earlier but the lawyers said they'd first pay for all the expert witnesses, then they'd take their 40%. Joe figured he'd be left with almost nothing and decided to take his chances in court. That was a mistake! The lawyers proved with expert testimony that wet plywood was unsafe, and that it had caused Joe's fall but to that Cajun jury he was just sueing a poor old Cajun storekeeper. He wasn't allowed to mention, in court, that any money would come from the rich insurance company, who failed to pay his claim, and not from the storekeeper. The jury came back with a verdict of "No liability", and we went home broke!
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