Ya’ll Politics and the Commercial Appeal have the story of a DeSoto County jury awarding $30 million to a teenager who spent eight months in a coma and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after his vehicle was hit by an over-weight gravel truck driven by an inexperienced driver. The passenger in the vehicle was killed. The truck driver pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault and was sentenced to fifteen years probation. The defendant in the trial was APAC Tennessee, Inc., a road paving company. The jury apportioned APAC 70% of the fault. Paul Scott represented the Plaintiff and Bill Luckett represented the Defendant. Luckett tries a lot of cases and wins his share. Although the article is not clear on this point, APAC may be liable for only $21 million (70% of $30 million).
I suspect that the defendant’s insurance carrier was counting on a conservative DeSoto County jury going easy on the defendant. DeSoto County is 76% white and very conservative. Some insurance companies read too much into statistics like that and try cases that should be settled. While many times the tactic works, when it does not it can result in a big verdict. That is especially true in a case like this where there was surely a staggering amount of economic damages.