On June 28, 2006, a Washington County jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff Holly Parsons for $1,147,000, reported her attorney, John Cabaniss.
The case rose out of a car crash that occurred on January 13, 2003 as a result of a prank gone awry. On January 13, 2003, Brett Klug, age 17, and Cassandra Remmel, age 16, Kewaskum High School students, agreed to the prank. Earlier in the day, their friend and classmate, Jeffrey Bishoff, had knocked Mr. Klug's books out of his hands and thus to get him back, it was agreed they would take Mr. Bishoff's car keys and move his 1995 Ford Concourse to a distant location in the school parking lot so that when Mr. Bishoff left school, he would erroneously believe his car was stolen. As Ms. Remmel and Mr. Klug left the school, they agreed Ms. Remmel would drive Mr. Bishoff's car for a short ride before parking it in a new location. As they left school, they encountered their friend, plaintiff Holly Parsons and asked her to join. She agreed. They departed with Ms. Remmel driving, Mr. Klug in the right front passenger seat, and plaintiff Holly Parsons unrestrained in the rear seat. Ms. Remmel drove several miles eastbound on State Highway 28 in a posted 45 mph zone. She turned onto a rural residential unmarked pea gravel road to turn around. As she sped down Mill Road north, she fishtailed at which point Mr. Klug pulled the center console mounted emergency brake in an attempt to assist Ms. Remmel in regaining control of the car. The car rolled over, ejecting Ms. Parsons. As a result of the crash, Ms. Parsons suffered three fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, fractured pelvis, severe degloving injury to her right elbow and arm, and numerous lacerations and contusions. Ms. Parsons was in the intensive care unit for six days and in the hospital thirteen. Among other things, she had a chest tube placed for her collapsed lung, she underwent three debridement skin graft operations to treat her right elbow/arm injury and she underwent surgery to place an external fixator for her fractured pelvis. Ms. Parsons suffered a slow, difficult recovery and was totally immobilized for two to three months. Ms. Parsons incurred medical bills of approximately $147,000.
Insurance companies for Brett Klug and Cassandra Remmel denied coverage, on the grounds that neither had permission to operate the Bishoff car; however, both conceded coverage under Wisconsin's Sponsorship Statute Section 343.15. Klug's insured, General Casualty, offered judgment in the amount of its policy of $100,000 which was accepted. Defendant American Family refused to offer any of its $250,000 policy limit. After a 2 ½ day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding Ms. Remmel 24% at fault, Mr. Klug 75% at fault, and Ms. Parsons 1%, with a total award of $1,000,000 for past and future pain, suffering, and disability, plus the stipulated medical bills of $147,000.