Jury awards $42 million for tick disease
BRIDGEPORT — A summer study program in China for a former student of The
Hotchkiss School, an exclusive prep school in Litchfield County, changed a
young woman’s life forever, but for the worst.
Never again will Cara Munn, now 20, speak another word or be able to
process information as quickly as she did before contracting encephalitis
after a June 24, 2007, tick bite on a school hiking trip near Mount Panshan.
“She is a very highly intelligent woman,” said her attorney, Antonio
Ponvert of the Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder law firm. “She’s not able to speak
an intelligible word. She will never be able to speak again.”
On Wednesday, after about eight hours of deliberations, the jury of six
women and two men awarded Munn and her parents $41.7 million in damages
against the exclusive 122-year old Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, where
annual tuition ranges from $39,750 to $46,775, according to the Hotchkiss
The award included $31 million for emotional and psychological suffering,
$7.2 million for future medical care and rehabilitative treatment, $2.5
million for lost earnings and $450,000 for past medical expenses.
Ponvert said he, Munn and her parents “were very, very appreciative” of the
jury’s attention during the eight-day trial before U.S. District Judge
Stefan R. Underhill. Ponvert added that his client communicates by typing
about 10 words a minute.
“She has managed to do her best under very extraordinary circumstances,”
said Ponvert, who tried the case with help from Linda Grossberg, a legal
In his lawsuit, Ponvert charged Hotchkiss with negligence by failing to
warn students they could be subjected to insect-transmitted diseases in
China, failing to ensure students took insect bite precautions, failing to
include medical personnel on the trip, and failing to make advance
arrangements to return any injured or ill students to the United States.
3/28/2013 8:30:42 AM