Plaintiffs, a 47-year-old mother, her 11-year-old daughter and her 7-year-old son, were struck by a dump truck on the driver’s side of their minivan as the plaintiff-mother attempted to turn left on a green turn arrow from a multi-lane road to a multi-lane road in Wake County.
Plaintiffs alleged that defendant Paylor, trying to keep up with a convoy of trucks headed to a job site, hit the gas trying to make it across the stop line before the light turned red and failed.
Plaintiffs alleged negligent hiring and supervision of defendant Paylor by defendant Eubanks and his small trucking company, and alleged that the negligence was rose to a level justifying punitive damages. The defendants alleged that the plaintiff-mother was contributory negligent by failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to heed the warning from the defendant Paylor, who claimed he blew his horn while entering the intersection.
At impact, the defendant-truck driver was traveling between 25 and 30 mph in a fully loaded dump truck weighing 27 tons. Plaintiff-mother had a fractured pelvis, coccyx and sternum; lacerated spleen; and partially collapsed her lung. She recovered well from her injuries.
Plaintiff-daughter had a traumatic cataract in her left eye and a facial laceration. The cataract will likely require surgery in the future and the laceration left a small scar on her face. Both the plaintiff-mother and daughter were hospitalized for their injuries, and the mother was confined to her bed for two months following the wreck. Plaintiff-son had no significant physical injuries, but the wreck left him with significant anxiety about riding in cars.
Plaintiffs’ investigation and discovery revealed that defendant Paylor had several convictions for speeding-related charges, had several crashes under circumstances suggesting impairment and had been terminated from a past employment for testing positive for marijuana on a random drug test.
The investigation revealed the previously unknown fact that defendant Eubanks had multiple DWI convictions in addition to other traffic offenses and that he had obtained a North Carolina Commercial Driver’s License under a false name by falsely representing his identity to the DMV as that of his dead brother.
While driving on this fraudulently issued CDL, defendant Eubanks he was charged with a DWI, and actually successfully pled guilty to the charge under his dead brother’s name. Plaintiffs also learned that on a single day defendant Eubanks had pled guilty to two separate DWIs in two different counties, one under his own name and one under his dead brother’s name. Under questioning at his deposition he admitted a fifth North Carolina DWI conviction that neither the DMV nor prosecutors had discovered.
The limit of liability coverage in the case was $750,000. Plaintiffs chose to settle the case for $725,000 to avoid the delay and costs of trying the case and since there was no possibility of collecting an excess verdict.
Type of action: Personal injury; motor vehicular negligence; negligent hiring, supervision and retention; punitive damages sought
Injuries alleged: Fractured pelvis, coccyx and sternum; lacerated spleen; and partially collapsed lung (plaintiff-mother); traumatic cataract in left eye and a facial laceration (plaintiff daughter); anxiety (plaintiff son)
Case name: Jane Doe et al. v. Joey Bernard Paylor, Jermaine Omar Eubanks d/b/a Eubanks Trucking & Grading, and Eubanks Trucking & Grading
Case number: Withheld
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Date: July 26, 2010
Amount: $725,000 (cash settlement with mother, plus cost of annuities for minors)
Special damages: $79,143 (medical expenses for all three injured plaintiffs)
Insurer: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
Plaintiff’s attorneys: Donald H. Beskind, Donald R. Strickland and Jesse H. Rigsby IV, all of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau (Raleigh)
Editor’s note: The information in Lawyers Weekly’s verdicts and settlements reports was submitted by the counsel for the prevailing party and represents the attorney’s characterization of the case.