This week a Fairfax, Virginia, jury awarded a Vienna woman $4.75 million for the brain injury and other injuries that she suffered when a fireworks show went awry three years ago. While one of the woman’s young sons was also awarded money for his injuries, a personal injury case involving her youngest son has not been settled because the extent of his injuries are not yet fully known.
During the traumatic brain injury trial, the woman asked for $1.9 million in past and future medical expenses and $5 million for pain and suffering.
The traumatic brain injury accident occurred in 2007 in Vienna, when the town’s annual Independence Day fireworks display went terribly wrong. A salute rocket, which is meant to be fired straight up into the air, was instead accidentally fired directly into the audience. Kathryn Hollis and her two young sons were three of a number of victims of the mistake – Kathryn suffered serious burns, a brain injury, a broken arm, and damaged eardrums. While some of those wounds have healed (with the help of multiple surgeries, the 39-year-old woman still suffers from memory problems and other disabilities related to her head injury. Her sons also suffered burns, concussions, and eardrum injuries.
While some victims of the fireworks accident are suing the Town of Vienna, fireworks company Schaefer Pyrotechnics, and the fireworks manufacturer, Hollis’ brain injury attorney decided to focus on Schaefer for this trial. Many testified that the fireworks were not what the town ordered and were in violation of several laws and regulations. In fact, fireworks that were sent to other area towns by the same company also malfunctioned and were often fired into the crowd.