Type of Action: Wrongful Death, Automobile Negligence, Trucking Negligence, Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR’s)
Injuries Alleged: Broken neck, fatality within minutes of collision.
Name of Case: [CONFIDENTIAL]
Court and County with Case #: [CONFIDENTIAL] Filed in a county in Eastern North Carolina
Settlement/Trial: Case settled at a mediated settlement conference after numerous depositions.
Name of Judge or Mediator: Robert A. Beason, Mediator
Special Damages: Funeral/Burial Expenses $9,742.
Verdict or Settlement: Settlement
Amount: $600,000 ($100,000 from automobile driver’s insurers; $500,000 from truck driver’s insurers)
Date of Verdict or Settlement: Dismissal filed June 26, 2008.
Most Helpful Experts (Name, Title, Location): Charles A. Cook, M.D., Raleigh Associated Medical Specialists (family practice), Raleigh, NC; Reggie Hines, Trucking Safety Regulations and Industry Standards, Mt. Olive, NC; Ed Livesay, Accident Reconstructionist, Lemon Springs, NC; Janey Barnes, Ph.D., Human Factors Expert, Raleigh, NC; and, Markay Media and Cynthia Hill, video production, Durham, NC.
Insurance Carriers: [CONFIDENTIAL]
Lead Attorney for the Plaintiff : Philip A. Mullins, IV of Thomas, Ferguson & Mullins, LLP (Durham), 919-682-5648, fax 919-688-7251
Description of Case, evidence presented, and arguments made:Decedent was a 65 year old woman who was in the rear seat of a passenger automobile that crashed into the rear of a stopped tractor trailer truck. The truck was parked approximately five to seven feet to the right of the white line on the paved shoulder of US Highway 64 in a county east of Wake County. The truck was parked under an overpass. It was raining very hard. The driver of the car in which the Decedent was riding could not see well due to the heavy downpour and thought the truck was moving in a normal fashion. The car was going over 50 m.p.h. when it rear-ended the parked tractor-trailer. The truck driver had failed to turn on his emergency four-way flashers and had also failed to put out the 3 bi-directional warning triangles. Numerous other violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR’s) were found.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol cited the automobile driver for driving too fast for conditions. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol noted over 10 violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and placed the trucker out of service. The Decedent was married, but living separate from her husband. They had been married for well over 30 years. They had five adult children, and several grandchildren. At the time of her death, the Decedent resided in Wake County. The collision occurred in a county east of Wake County. The Decedent had multiple serious illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, and she had suffered a stroke several years before this crash. Her medical condition required her to have daytime live-in nursing assistance. Despite her health conditions, the Decedent lived a vibrant, productive life. Fortunately, for over a dozen years, the Decedent was followed by her family physician, Charles A. Cook, M.D. of Raleigh Associated Medical Specialists. Dr. Cook provided information to support plaintiff’s position that, despite all these health concerns, but for the collision the Decedent would have likely lived 16.8 more years per the North Carolina Mortality Tables. Dr. Cook and other witnesses noted that, although she was not gainfully employed (no wage loss submitted), she was very involved in helping others and was a very productive, important person in others’ lives.
The Decedent was involved in the lives of many who needed her help, advice, encouragement, and comfort including neighbors, young women in the community, and many in her church. Her minister, Sherry Walker of Garner, was very helpful in providing insight into how important this woman was to her children, people in their church, and those who knew her. To most of their congregation, the Decedent was known simply as “Mother Catherine.” Plaintiff’s counsel submitted a settlement video to defense counsel with compelling testimony from the Decedent’s children, surviving spouse, family friends, minister, and other people that the Decedent had counseled, comforted and helped in the months preceding her death. At the time of the collision, the Decedent was being driven to a wedding in Eastern North Carolina. The Decedent’s nephew was going to be married and the bride and groom were going to honor her at their wedding for her importance in helping them make good decisions in their lives.
Amount Actually Recovered for Client: 100% recovery, ie., $600,000 (Six Hundred Thousand Dollars).