Jury Awards Iowa Man $10 Million for Back Injury

March 9, 2007

A federal jury has awarded a man $10 million after ruling that his employer’s insurance carrier acted in bad faith in denying his claim for benefits from a 1999 back injury.

The jury is still deliberating whether to award the man additional compensation for punitive damages.

Court records show that Kris Zimmer, 47, worked as a computer technician for Norwest Financial when he injured his back when he bent over to pick up papers that had been dropped and were blowing around. Doctors diagnosed him in severe pain, but a lawsuit claimed that Travelers Insurance Co. denied his worker compensation claim.

The insurance adjusters argued that Zimmer had a history of back problems that included at least two surgeries before the latest incident. They said the injury worsened Zimmer’s already existing psychological conditions.

The $10 million judgment was aimed at compensating Zimmer for his emotional distress, and for pain and suffering for what the jury found was bad faith denial of his claim for medical assistance.

Lawyers declined to comment on the decision because the jury was still considering whether to award punitive damages. No timeframe was announced for that decision.

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