A former UPS worker whose $45-million dollar workers compensation award was overturned by the South Dakota Supreme Court has been awarded almost as much by the jury in the retrial of the case.
A Pennington County jury has awarded $1-million dollars in compensatory damages and $41-million in punitive damages to Fern Johnson in connection with an on-the-job injury suffered a quarter-century ago.
Johnson was injured in 1996 with a laparoscopy determining she had a hernia. She had surgery, but stopped working for UPS the following year due to groin and back pain.
Her compensable medical expenses were paid by UPS and its insurer from until spring 2010 after the company and its insurer hired a neurologist to review her case.
He concluded Johnson’s work was no longer a major contributing cause of pain that required medical treatment because she hadn’t worked for UPS for 13 years but still experienced worsening symptoms. Johnson then sued and was awarded $45-million..
Verne Goodsell, who represents Johnson, says the consistency of the 2 jury awards confirms that “our community will not tolerate bad and reckless behavior by insurance companies” who pocket money for medical care that belongs to injured workers.