A United States District Court Jury awarded $1,700,000.00 for the wrongful death of a 57 year-old husband and father. $400,000.00 was awarded to make an example of the trucking company that killed him.
Rocky Mountain Verdicts and Settlements
Multi-Vehicle Accident on I-80 in Snowy Conditions – Middle-Aged Husband/Father Killed – $1,700,000.00 Compensatory/Punitives Verdict for Wife and Adult Sons.
The Estate of Patrick Brent Guinn, by Jody Guinn, et al.,
Builders Transportation Co., L.L.C., Berkut Transport, Inc. and Swift Transportation Co., Inc.
U.S. District Court
District of Wyoming
Judge Clarence Brimmer
Case No. 07 CV 54
Plaintiffs’ Attorney: James E. Fitzgerald, FITZGERALD LAW FIRM.
Defendants’ Attorney: Lloyd E. Smith, Heather Zadina, MURANE & BOSTWICK, for Builder’s Transportation; Richard Mincer, Mandy Good, HIRST & APPLEGATE; Paul Collins (CO), Robert Zavaglia (CO), Kathy Dixon, for Swift Transportation.
Plaintiffs’ Experts: Pat Pacey, Economist; Matt Meyerhoff, Trucking Industry Standards.
Defendants’ Experts: For Builders Transportation; John Scott, Accident Reconstruction; Norris Hoover, Trucking Industry Standards.
Decedent’s Age: Male, 57. Work: Overhead Door Installation.
Facts: This case arose from a multi-vehicle accident in white-out conditions on I-80 near Elkhorn Mountain on March 26, 2006. The sequence began when a pickup truck stopped in the blizzard conditions, followed by a Godfrey Trucking semi-truck which stopped to avoid the pickup. A Berkut Transport truck followed the Godfrey truck, and was in turn followed by a Swift Transportation truck. Which vehicle hit the other first was disputed, but this sequence ended with the Swift Transportation truck jack-knifed and blocking virtually the entire travel lanes of the freeway. Decedent Patrick Guinn, driving a Honda Civic, then arrived upon the scene. He stopped just short of the Swift truck, or possibly struck that truck, but in either event was able to exit his vehicle and walk toward the back. A Builders Transportation semi-truck then arrived upon the scene, colliding into Guinn’s vehicle, another vehicle, and crushing Guinn between the Builders Transportation truck and the already stopped Berkut truck. Guinn was killed instantly. His survivors alleged the drivers of the semi-trucks were at fault in creating the hazardous condition that blocked the freeway, then in colliding into and killing Guinn. They also alleged punitive damages based on hiring, retention and training issues, and the fact that the Builders Transportation driver had driven in excess of those hours allowed by federal standards. Guinn at the time of his death left a wife and two adult sons.
Medical Bills: Funeral expenses.
Lost Wages: Plaintiff’s economic expert testified to economic losses of $939,000.
Verdict: This case was tried to a jury. The jury found Builders Transportation 100% at fault. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $1,000,000 to Guinn’s widow and $150,000 each to his two adult sons. The jury also awarded $400,000 in punitive damages which was divided among his widow and sons in proportion to the compensatory damages. The total of compensatory and punitive damages came to $1,700,000.
Offers: Defendants collectively offered $1 million. Plaintiffs demanded $1.9 million.