One thing quickly has become clear in the lawsuit against Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: The question isn’t whether he owns Saadia Van Winkle compensation for her injuries, but how much.
“Mr. Suh acknowledges Ms. Van Winkle should receive fair compensation for any injury she sustained or medical expense or wage loss she incurred and Mr. Suh has attempted to resolve the matter fairly with her,” Mike Lehner said in a written statement, according to the Detroit Free Press. “She has rejected those attempts and has now filed a lawsuit against Mr. Suh asking for more than $1,000,000. According to that lawsuit, she has incurred approximately $4,000 in medical expenses, and lost wages in the amount of $2500. Mr. Suh denies many of the allegations in the complaint, but now it appears a jury will have to decide how to fairly compensate Ms. Van Winkle for her injury.”
Typically, a personal-injury case has a settlement value in the range of three times the amount of the so-called “out-of-pocket” or “special” damages. The thinking is that, by using a specials-times-three formula, the bills get paid, the plaintiff gets an equivalent amount for pain and suffering, and the lawyer gets his/her cut.
Of course, a jury can award whatever it wants, subject to modification by the judge if the jury gives too much or too little. Still, in this case, the settlement value would be in the range of $20,000, if Van Winkle’s injuries are fully resolved.
So, yes, a $1 million demand is excessive. It therefore makes sense to take it to trial, especially since the legal fees and the settlement/verdict ultimately will be covered by Suh’s insurance policy — assuming that he had one that was paid up and in place.
For his part, Suh declined to address the situation on Friday, referring all questions to his lawyers. That’s the smart approach, because anything he says now can be used against him in court later.