Jury awards woman $1.2 million in civil case


A jury awarded a Hilliard woman $1.2 million after a four-day civil trial in Delaware County Common Pleas Court last week.

The trial in the case of Ilona “Debbie” Deluca-Ely and her husband, John Ely, both of Hilliard, versus Protective Insurance Co., a Carmel, Indiana-based insurance firm, began on April 19 and concluded on April 22 when the jury ruled in favor of Deluca.

The jury then awarded her $1,200,761 to cover medical expenses and other damages.

Court documents state the civil case centered around a 2013 car accident on U.S. 23. Records indicate the crash took place on Dec. 13 when Deluca-Ely was stopped behind another car on U.S. 23 when Bay Village, Ohio, resident Larry Lacure, traveling 50 mph in his recreational vehicle, hit the left rear of Deluca’s vehicle.

Deluca sustained several injuries in the crash, court records state, including a mild traumatic brain injury, a cervical disc injury, broken teeth and depression/mental health problems.

Lacure was cited by police for failing to maintain assured cleared distance ahead.

Lacure settled with Deluca after his insurance company agreed to pay $300,000, thus removing him as a defendant in the case. She then sued her own insurance company, Protective Insurance Co., after unsuccessfully invoking an under-insured provision in her insurance policy for the remainder of her damages.

According to court filings, Protective Insurance contested that all of Deluca’s injuries were the result of the crash and declined to pay the $700,000 that Deluca was seeking.

Court records indicate the two parties tried to resolved the matter before trial but the negotiations ended after Deluca said she should would not back down from her lowest offer of $695,000 and Protective Insurance Co. would not go higher than $25,000. Court records indicate Protective Insurance Co. recently extended an offer of $75,000 to Deluca but it was declined.

After the four-day trial, the jury ruled that Protective Insurance must pay Deluca $700,000 plus interest. The jury’s award includes the $300,000 from Lacure’s insurance company.

Deluca was represented by Todd H. Neuman, a Columbus-based attorney.

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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