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Couple rear-ended by postal truck recover $1.1 million

April 21, 2023
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A crash involving a postal truck resulted in a net recovery of more than $1.1 million for a St. Louis County couple.

“They were driving and the Post Office truck made a left turn onto the road in the center lane and traffic had come to a stop,” said Jamie Boyer of the Bruning Law Firm. “He wasn’t able to stop and he rear-ended our clients.”

Craig Johns’ injuries from the October 2017 collision included a bulging cervical disc, ventral cord impingement and intervertebral disc displacement among other issues. His case was settled for $450,000, but Dianna Fehrenbach’s claims proceeded to a bench trial.

According to Judge Stephen Welby’s findings of fact in the case, Fehrenbach complained of pain in the neck, back and left hip as well as numbness in the legs leading to decreased mobility and instability.

Boyer called it a “battle of the medical experts” in which the plaintiff’s physicians highlighted long-term problems while the defense said she had simple whiplash that should have resolved reasonably quickly.

“Their position was that all of the treatment she received over and above six weeks had been medically unnecessary,” Boyer said.

Welby found the plaintiff was entitled to recover $230,000 in past medical expenses. Additionally, he awarded twice her medical expenses for pain and suffering along with just under $3,000 in lost wages.

However, the court declined to award damages for future medical expenses since it was not clear that an additional surgery was reasonably certain.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which represented the defense, expressed sympathy for the plaintiff’s injuries and wished her well. It noted that she had originally sought $1 million while the judge’s award totaled a little under $700,000.

“We conceded that the employee of the U.S. Postal Service was responsible for rear-ending the Johns’ car,” it said. “The only issue at the bench trial was what injuries were caused by the crash and what the appropriate compensation should be.”

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