New Haven Superior Court building. New Haven Superior Court building. Photo: Google

Connecticut attorney Ryan Miller had a few hurdles to overcome in his representation of a client injured in a motorcycle-car collision.

First, Miller’s client, plaintiff Darin Farland, refused to have surgery as his doctor had suggested. Cases involving surgery often lead to larger settlements. Plus, it helps if plaintiffs counsel can show the client abided by doctors’ recommendations.

“It was an uphill battle with the defense when he said no to the surgery,” Miller said. “The defense was claiming, ‘Why should we pay the value of a case that includes a surgery, if the surgery will not be happening?’”

Then a second obstacle: Farland was not wearing a helmet, which complicated things.

“There is this bias out there against people who ride motorcycles,” said Miller of Miller & Morilla in Stratford. “The defense was going to use the fact that my client was not wearing a helmet against him to a jury, if it went that far.”

So, what clinched the $180,000 settlement on Feb. 19?

Miller said that while not all plaintiffs give testimony the defense deems credible, he said his client showed that deposition testimony could wash away any concerns.

“He is a very active guy and these injuries set him back,” Miller said. “He came across in the deposition as an honest truth teller, and the medical records were consistent. He was not only truthful, but his deposition was also very moving.”

Miller used snippets of Farland’s deposition in his private Zoom mediation with defense counsel Amanda Stefanatos of Ryan Ryan Deluca in Bridgeport and mediator Christopher Wanat of Milano & Wanat in Branford.

“I flagged important parts … that I thought would appeal to a jury, if it went that far,” he said.

Miller said Farland opted for physical therapy over surgery, and the client didn’t give a reason for declining the procedure.

According to Miller and a November 2019 lawsuit filed in New Haven Superior Court, Farland was riding his motorcycle on Main Street in East Haven in 2018 when motorist Elena Singer Gruendel made a left-hand turn into the motorcycle, causing the collision.

Miller said Farland flipped over his own handle bars and hit his head on Gruendel’s Honda Element. Miller said Farland, a 51-year-old Branford iron worker, suffered injuries to his lower back and scarring to his left arm. Farland missed several months of work, his attorney said.

Gruendel was given an infraction for failure to yield while turning left.

Today, Miller said, his client “still has pain in his back. He was very active with weightlifting, golfing and jogging. He has stopped doing those activities because of his back pain.”

Defense counsel Stefanatos didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

But in court pleadings the defense said the plaintiff was careless and negligent and partly responsible for his own injuries.

Among other things, the defense wrote that Farland “failed to keep a reasonable and proper lookout for other motor vehicles on the highway” and “failed to sound his horn or give a timely warning of the impending collision.”