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18-Wheeler Collision




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Jury Verdict

Rollover with drunken driver aggravated anxiety: plaintiff

Harris County


Multiple Vehicle — Alcohol Involvement — Rollover — Left Turn

Rollover with drunken driver aggravated anxiety: plaintiff




Francis Atiles v. Ashley Jean Biehn, No. 2013-37546


Harris County District Court, 269th, TX


Dan Hinde Date 4/12/2016

Plaintiff Attorney(s)
Eric D. Nielsen, The Nielsen Law Firm PC, Houston, TX
Ryan Bill, The Nielsen Law Firm PC, Houston, TX
Defense Attorney(s)
Thomas A. Laucius, Laucius & Associates, Houston, TX
Facts & Allegations

On April 26, 2013, plaintiff Francis Atiles, 66, retired, was driving in the 3700 block of Fry Road, in Katy, when her Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicle struck the rear passenger side of a Nissan Frontier pickup truck driven by Ashley Jean Biehn. The truck, traveling in the opposite direction, had attempted to turn left into the parking lot of a strip mall.

The impact caused Atiles’ vehicle to roll over onto its passenger side. She claimed that she suffered an aggravation of pre-existing conditions. Biehn was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Atiles sued Biehn for motor vehicle negligence and gross negligence. Biehn stipulated to negligence, and the case proceeded to trial on the issues of causation and damages.


aggravation of pre-existing condition; chest, bruise; contusion; emotional distress; physical therapy

Atiles was taken by ambulance to an emergency room where a chest X-ray was negative. Atiles followed up with her family physician who diagnosed contusions on her sternum and chest. She treated with physical therapy from June 13 to July 13.

Atiles claimed that the accident aggravated her pre-existing conditions of vertigo and anxiety. She allegedly suffered increased dizziness which she treated with a session of the Epley maneuver. Atiles, who had been taking medication for her anxiety, continued with the treatment and was monitored by her physician. No further treatment was rendered, and she sought about $5,000 in outstanding medical costs.

Atiles’ physician causally related her injuries and treatment to the accident.

Atiles claimed that her increased anxiety resulted in a fear of driving at night (at which time the accident occurred). She alleged that this has prevented her from being as active in her grandchildren’s sporting events, including driving them to practice and games as she had done prior to the collision. Atiles sought damages for past physical impairment, past and future physical pain and mental anguish, and exemplary damages.

The defense maintained that there was no difference in Atiles’ vertigo and anxiety symptoms pre- and post-accident, and therefore an exacerbation could not be attributed.


The jury found that Biehn’s negligence was a factual cause of injury to Atiles, who was determined to receive $200,000.

Francis Atiles
$5,000 past medical cost
$5,000 past physical impairment
$35,000 past pain and suffering
$5,000 future pain and suffering
$150,000 exemplary damages



$30,000 Insurer(s) Aggressive Insurance LLC

Trial Details
Trial Length: 2 days
Trial Deliberations: 3 hours
Jury Poll: 12-0
Jury Composition: 6 male, 6 female
Plaintiff Expert(s)
Chung-Tai Hu, M.D., family medicine, Houston, TX (treating)
Defense Expert(s)

None reported

Editor’s Note: This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls. –Aaron Jenkins