Below are examples of the actual cases David M. Dunlap has handled as a trial lawyer. Click on each title to review the specific case studies.
- Dunlap represented a 59-year-old client who had been employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant for over 20 years. Upon reporting to work early one morning she opened an interior doorway to access the employee lounge and tripped over construction materials left in the room by a third-party construction company who was doing remodeling work to the nursing home. Our client suffered a fracture to the humerus bone near her shoulder of her dominant arm resulting in a surgical repair. Not only did we assist her with her workers’ compensation claim obtaining permanent total disability benefits, but we also pursued a personal injury liability claim against the construction company for negligently leaving the materials just inside a dark interior office doorway. Mr. Dunlap obtained a $200,000.00 settlement against the construction company for the broken arm and disability in addition to the workers’ compensation benefits. The recovery, coupled with the workers’ compensation benefits, allowed this client to retire and take care of her future medical needs.
- Dunlap represented a wonderful, hard working lady who was employed by Village Inn Restaurants in the Baymeadows of Jacksonville as a waitress. She loved her work and had many steady customers whom she saw each day. Early one morning at work two maintenance men from Coca-Cola Bottling Company showed up at the Village Inn to repair or replace a soda fountain machine in the kitchen area. Despite our client’s multiple requests of the Coca-Cola employees to keep their tools off the floor and out of the way, they left their toolbox and other equipment on the floor just behind the kitchen door. As our client came through the kitchen door with a large tray of dishes she did not notice the toolbox on the floor, tripped over it and suffered a very severe fracture of her upper arm. The injury was incredibly painful and required surgery with metal rods, screws and plates to fix the fracture. Coca-Cola blamed our client for not looking where she was going and refused to pay appropriate compensation. Mr. Dunlap filed suit against Coca-Cola and won a $350,000.00 settlement for her injuries. The client also received workers’ compensation benefits from the Village Inn over and above the claim against Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
- Dunlap represented a single mother with four young children working nightshift as an orthopedic floor nurse in Jacksonville. One evening she took her children to a local Walmart store in Jacksonville to shop for groceries and baby items. As she pushed her cart with her infant child in the seat around the endcap of an aisle way, a display of scooters came tumbling down from the shelf hitting her on top of the head, back of the neck and shoulders. Although she checked out fine at the hospital she later began having severe symptoms involving numbness, tingling of her arms, loss of neurological function and significant weakness. She was ultimately advised by her doctor that she had sustained a herniated disc in her neck which required surgery to remove the disc and fuse the bones of her spine together to avoid further injury. Walmart refused to take responsibility for its negligent stacking and display of the products in its store. Mr. Dunlap filed suit against Walmart and after lengthy litigation and trial the jury awarded the client $668,743.00 for her injuries and damages. Although Walmart took the case to the appellate courts, we prevailed resulting in payment of the verdict to our client plus interest on the award and all of our trial expenses.
- Dunlap’s client worked as a cook part-time at a local Jacksonville Beach church and also fulltime as a waitress at a local restaurant. The church hired an outside contractor to completely pain the exterior of the building. One afternoon our client was preparing a Wednesday night dinner for the church members and exited the kitchen to go to her car to retrieve some items. The painting contractors had turned a large rubber mat upside down on the sidewalk where it became wet from the air and the ocean spray. Our client stepped on the rug, slipped and suffered a badly broken hip which required hip replacement surgery. In addition to pursuing her workers’ compensation benefits we obtained a $325,000.00 award paid by the painting contractor for her personal injuries.
- Dunlap was hired by a local surgeon after the surgeon was knocked over by a neighbor’s dog who was running wild through the neighborhood. The client was taking his Sunday morning jog through a gated community when another neighbor’s dog ran across the yard and lunged into the client knocking him to the ground. The client suffered a very badly broken wrist when he instinctively put his hand down to break his fall. He also suffered a significant neck injury including a herniated disc. The client was required to undergo surgery for the arm and surgery for his neck requiring him to miss significant amounts of work and lose surgical patients. The insurance company for the homeowner denied ownership of the dog and contended that our client was not injured as he claimed he was. After the denial Mr. Dunlap filed suit against several defendants pursuing the case up to trial where the matter was settled for $900,000.00. In addition to the $900,000.00 recovery, the client was also paid disability insurance requiring no reimbursement under his policy.
- Dunlap represented the Estate of a 77-year-old retired grandmother who was being driven to a doctor’s appointment by her grandson in Nassau County. A logging truck returning from the mill in Fernandina ran a red light and turned left directly in front of the client on A1A at I-95 resulting in a collision. The grandmother was killed instantly and the grandson suffered serious injuries. The trucking company claims they had the greed arrow to make a protected left-hand turn. We met with traffic engineers and had accident reconstruction and trucking experts establish that given the computer sequence of the light at the intersection and the vehicles who were at the intersection it would have been impossible for the truck to have had a green light or a green turn arrow proving the truck was at fault for the collision. The trucking company paid $1,350,000.00 for settlement of these claims.
- In 2012 Mr. Dunlap was hired to represent an elderly couple for a very tragic situation. Following Mass one evening this couple pulled out onto Beach Boulevard from Assumption Church. Unfortunately, the gentleman had left his cane on top of the vehicle and during the turn the cane slid off the vehicle and skidded across the intersection. The couple pulled over and as the gentleman was walking into the intersection to retrieve his cane he was hit by a bus being operated by a private company in Jacksonville. He sustained traumatic brain injury and multiple orthopedic injuries which ultimately resulted in his death many months later. Mr. Dunlap immediately hired an accident reconstruction computer engineer to preserve the line of sight evidence for the bus driver and calculate time and speed formulas proving that the bus driver had more than enough time to observe the elderly gentleman entering the intersection before she hit him. The case was settled following the gentleman’s death for $1,437,500.00. The recovery allowed the widow to be financially independent and to receive in home health care and assistance when the time came.
- In October 2014 a 47 year old single Mom was riding her scooter to work in Orange Park, FL when another vehicle changed lanes knocking her off her scooter to the pavement. The client suffered a severely broken leg requiring surgery to set and repair the break. We found witnesses who were working on a construction project next to the road who advised us the driver of the car was on a hand held device and not paying attention to the traffic around her. We sued the driver and her employer. After 18 months of medical treatment and recovery from the broken leg, a blood clot in the leg and chronic pain, we settled the client’s claims two weeks before trial for $1,062,250. We then assisted the client in working with a Structured Settlement company to provide financial security for her for the rest of her life.
- In 2015, an 18 year old young girl, and high school student in Jacksonville, was riding her scooter home from a friend’s graduation party when another vehicle pulled out from a side street directly in front of her resulting in a T-bone collision. The client suffered facial fractures and multiple facial lacerations. Mr. Dunlap was hired by the child’s grandmother who is a lawyer in south Florida to represent the family. After months of medical treatment and negotiation with multiple insurance carriers, Mr. Dunlap obtained a $660,000.00 settlement for the child.
- In 2013 we tried a Motorcycle vs. Bus case in Duval County. The client was a concrete finisher and father of four young children. While riding home from estimating a job one evening, our client hit a City Bus that turned left in front of him at a traffic light. The collision was captured by three cameras on the bus. The client suffered major life threatening injuries including a torn aorta, broken legs, multiple facial fractures and a Traumatic Brain Injury. He was not wearing a helmet. The Bus company claimed our client was speeding and that trees in the median blocked him from the view of the bus driver as she began her turn on a green light. The bus company blamed our client, the City of Jax, and the Florida Dept of Transportation. We used expert accident reconstruction engineers, video experts and medical experts to prove the fault was mostly on the Bus driver (61%).The jury awarded $2,635,741 in damages for the client, his wife and their children. The jury found our client partially at fault (39%) and found no fault on the City or State as the defense claimed. This case had every complex engineering and medical issue and witness imaginable. There were over 70 witness depositions taken in the case which lasted over two years.
- Dunlap was hired by a client from out of state who had come to Florida to undergo an abdominal surgery commonly known as a “tummy tuck”. The surgery was done in St. Augustine by a plastic surgeon from the Tampa area who travelled to north Florida occasionally to do similar plastic surgery procedures. The surgery was done inappropriately and the client developed significant skin infections which ultimately resulted in necrosis and widespread infection. After multiple plastic surgeries to repair the problems, Mr. Dunlap filed suit and through litigation obtained a policy limits settlement from the surgeon.
- In January 1998, 24-year-old woman was driving her Toyota Tercel home with her 28-year-old husband and their three children, all under age five in the back seat. The kids were properly belted in the car seats. As she pulled away from a stop sign in west Jacksonville her car was broadsided by a speeding bus resulting in the death of her husband and the death of two of the children in the backseat. The impact caused injuries to her along with a complete loss of consciousness and traumatic amnesia. Fortunately, the third child sustained minimal injury. Within days of attending the funeral of her husband and two small children and while under a doctor’s care for stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, an Omaha Nebraska insurance adjuster flew to Jacksonville and with the aid of a local insurance attorney went to our client’s home and paid a minimal settlement amount her all the while advising her that the accident was her fault and that she had to take responsibility for the loss of her family members. The insurance carrier even hired an additional lawyer to “take care of her” and set up an Estate so the minimal settlement could be pushed through the court system without question. Approximately two years later, she was attending a family function and ran into a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer. Only then did she learn that the driver operating the bus that hit the vehicle killing her husband and her two children had tested positive at the scene for both marijuana and cocaine in his blood. She was referred to a south Florida firm who contacted Mr. Dunlap to co-counsel and pursue a claim for fraudulent inducement of a settlement again the insurance carrier. After a lengthy and complex litigation which spanned six years, as well as a two-week jury trial, Mr. Dunlap and co-counsel obtained an additional $3,000,000.00 verdict from the Duval County jury for this claim. More importantly, the jury confirmed what she always knew and what we worked so hard to prove, that she was not at fault for the death of her husband and children. As the jurors exited the jury box hugging and crying with her the years of struggle and hard work had clearly paid off.
- In 2006, a former University of Kentucky football player was enjoying a successful business sin the building supplies industry in Volusia County. The housing industry was booming and his hard work was paying off. That same year he was called on by two financial managers and consultants from a local Jacksonville financial planning business. They convinced our client to take $100,000.00 per year to put into an investment which was promised to go in tax free and to be paid out over time in the future for medical needs or other quality of life needs in a tax free fashion. After four years of making $100,000.00 contributions plus paying other fees and life insurance premiums, the IRS advised our client that these deductions were illegal and not allowed. When our client attempted to recover the money he had put in and end of the investment program, the company advised him that he had no ownership in the funds, had no ownership in the life insurance policy, was not entitled to receive any of his money back and would need to go into tax court litigation to try to help ease his problems. Mr. Dunlap co-counseled with attorney Jeff Liggio from Palm Beach, Florida and filed suit against Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, an employer benefit plan and several individual financial consultants in Duval County. After six years of complex litigation, we were able to obtain full and complete reimbursement of our client’s contributions into the plan, his lost interest on those monies, all totaling $800,000.00. Additionally, we were able to obtain a court awarded attorneys’ fee for all the work done in the case which will result in a recovery far in excess of the $800,000.00 recovered for the client. We were able to show that our client was fraudulently induced into participating in a plan that the sellers knew was not approved by the IRS and not a viable or honest investment plan.
Construction Company Liability
- A young single mother of five children traveling in a pickup truck on I-95 south in St. Johns County lost control of her truck, swerved across the traffic lanes and slammed into an unguarded bridge abutment causing the car to flip over landing on the other roadway beneath the overpass killing her. As a single car collision with no witnesses, a deceased driver and two children with no recollection of the collision, Mr. Dunlap was faced with the difficult task of reconstructing the accident to determine what had happened. Accident reconstruction experts along with Florida Highway Patrol Homicide Trooper assisted Mr. Dunlap with computer animated reconstruction from photographs taken at the scene, crush damage to the vehicles and other physical evidence. The investigation revealed the defendant construction company was adding a lane of travel to the area and had removed the metal guard rail approaching the concrete bridge abutment at the overpass of State Road 206 on I-95 south. When the truck went out of control, it should have hit the guard rail and been redirected back onto the roadway. Without the guardrail the fatal collision occurred. Mr. Dunlap filed suit against Ranger Construction Company, a highway contracting agency, alleging negligent removal of the metal guardrail creating an exposed hazard to the motorist and by computer assisted reconstruction was able to prove that had the guardrail remained in place the truck would have bounced off and come to rest in the designated clear zone resulting in no injury or much less injury. After years of litigation the case was settled on a structured settlement basis for each of the five children so that each child receives significant payments several years after reaching age 18. Even though the deceased mother was found at fault for the accident by the State Troopers and no other vehicles were involved, Mr. Dunlap’s experience with highway construction litigation allowed him to evaluate the crash scene, identify the construction defects and be successful in this litigation by obtaining a $530,000 settlement from the highway construction company.
Construction Injuries and Deaths
- 36-year-old Michael Paugh moved to Jacksonville from Virginia to be near his older brother and to take a job with a construction company which was building the elevated portion of I-95 near the I-95/I-10 junction. Our client was a laborer in charge of keeping the decking of the concrete bridge clean of debris. One morning Mr. Paugh needed to use the porta-toilet provided by the employer on the jobsite located on top of the elevated bridge. The toilet was placed near the edge of the elevated highway in an area where concrete had not been poured. Someone had taken a 4×8 sheet of Styrofoam used for pouring concrete forms and placed it in front of the door of the porta-toilet which was easily mistaken as a plywood platform. As Mr. Paugh stepped onto the Styrofoam board it gave way to his weight resulting in a fall of 50 feet to the ground below. Mr. Paugh suffered broken bones to most all of his body, including multiple facial fractures. Mr. Dunlap represented Mr. Paugh in the workers’ compensation claim with his employer, but also sued the employer directly for gross negligence in violation of multiple safety procedures. After several years of complex litigation, the case was settled just prior to trial for $800,000.00 in addition to the workers’ compensation benefits which were paid for his total disability. The compensation was set up in a structured settlement which has allowed Mr. Paugh not to return to work, but to focus on regaining his strength and enjoying his lifestyle as much as possible given the severity of his injuries.
- In a very tragic sad case, Mr. Dunlap was hired by the parents of a young UNF student who was traveling from north Jacksonville to UNF with his girlfriend to study one evening. In the 5:00 o’clock traffic a construction truck ran out of gas going up the Dames Point Bridge resulting in traffic backing up behind it. The young student and his girlfriend stopped appropriately behind the broken down truck and were suddenly and unexpectedly hit by another vehicle at highway speed. The driver of the truck that hit our client’s from the rear was impaired and intoxicated by alcohol and was arrested and charged. Unfortunately, he had minimal insurance coverage. Mr. Dunlap initiated a lawsuit against the construction company and was able to prove that their driver had a criminal history and had been fired from many previous jobs. He was unfit to be placed in a position of trust and responsibility where the company had placed him. He had violated multiple company rules regarding maintenance of the vehicle and filling the company with gas at the beginning of his day’s work. It was shown to be inevitable that that vehicle was going to run out of gas and cause problems for someone. Unfortunately, it resulted in the death of this young student. After filing suit and engaging in vigorous litigation against the construction company who blamed the other driver for 100% of the fault, Mr. Dunlap obtained a $1,000,000.00 settlement for the family allowing them closure with the loss of this wonderful bright young man in the prime of his life.
- Mr. Dunlap represented the family of a 67 year old gentleman who was killed on a job site in Brunswick, Ga. The gentleman was directing the flow of dump trucks delivering dirt for preparation of a construction site. A contractor working on the job had a poorly trained driver who backed up her truck over our client killing him. We proved the driver was not following established job site procedure and that the dump truck was in poor condition, including the absence of a fully functioning back up alarm on the truck which would have alerted the client to the backing vehicle. We were able to achieve a settlement for this family in the amount of $750,000.00
Maritime Injuries and Death
- In the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, a horrific boating accident occurred in the Intracoastal Waterway. Several passengers on the boat returning from a restaurant in St. Augustine were killed when the boat hit a dock and crane under construction on the Intracoastal Waterway. Mr. Dunlap was hired by the spouse of one of the passengers killed in the collision. After vigorous investigation with the Florida Marine Patrol and St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Dunlap along with other attorneys representing other families who lost loved ones in this collision reached a confidential settlement with the restaurant and the owner of the property building the dock. Alcohol was clearly involved in the collision and there was a dispute as to who was actually operating the boat at the time of the collision. Although inconclusive, our client was identified as the driver. Nonetheless her family was able to make a recovery to allow them to move on from this horrifically tragic incident.