Two local juries delivered multimillion-dollar verdicts in drunk driving cases in the last week. In the first, the drunk driving accident rendered the driver’s friend a paraplegic. In the second, a family lost its beloved father and husband.
The money, assuming the verdicts stand on appeal and there are sufficient insurance policies and resources so it can be collected, can never pay for the losses suffered by the victims.
$18 Million for Shattering Spinal Cord in Dallas County
In January 2012 Hope Crump was paralyzed when the truck driven by John Goin crashed on a Dallas road. Mr. Goin was drunk and lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and ejected Ms. Crump. Ms. Crump won an $18 million verdict in Judge Ken Mohlberg’s court in Dallas as compensation for her injuries. And surprisingly, it only awarded $1 in punitive damages, which are designed to act as a penalty against a negligent person.
The jury also determined that Ms. Crump shared responsibility for the accident under the comparative negligence formula used in Texas. Her total damages award was reduced by the percentage the jury found her at fault to $18 million.
$16 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Tarrant County
A nurse sent home for being drunk ran into the Graham family’s vehicle in August 2013, killing 37 year-old Sam Graham and injuring his wife and two young children.
The 43 year-old nurse Alisa Prueitt showed up intoxicated to her job
at Hamilton Healthcare Center about 100 miles from Fort Worth. Her
employer sent her home. What sent the verdict skyrocketing was that this was not the first time Ms. Prueitt was
drunk on the job or had driven home drunk. In May and July of 2013 an aide notified the nursing
home of Ms. Prueitt’s inebriated state. The company, nonetheless, did
not fire her or test her. At least in the May instance, a coworker
drove her home.
However, in August the nursing home, fully
aware of her intoxication, let her drive herself home. She drove 20
miles toward her home in Gatesville before ramming into the Grahams’
car. Her blood alcohol content was a whopping .40 percent — five times the legal limit in Texas and at the level someone could die from alcohol poisoning. She is serving 18 years for intoxication
manslaughter and 10 years for intoxication assault.
The family sued Senior Living, which owns Hamilton Healthcare Center,
for wrongful death for causing the fatal auto wreck. The jury agreed
that the Southlake nursing home was responsible for Mr. Graham’s death
and awarded the family $16.7 million dollars, including $5 million in
punitive damages, in Judge Don Cosby’s court.
Congratulations to the plaintiffs’ attorneys for achieving such excellent results.