Settlement Amount: $1,000,000
A towing company hired a driver with a criminal convictions for crimes including Possession of Marijuana, Driving While License Suspended, Forgery, Theft, and Delivery of a Controlled Substance. While impaired, the driver drove his tow truck north on Zell Road in excess of the speed limit. He drifted over the center line and struck Landen Harless, a 14-year-old boy who was walking on the other lane.
The driver was prosecuted for negligent homicide. While the criminal case was being processed, attorney Dean Brett proceeded with a wrongful-death claim against the towing company for negligently entrusting the tow truck to the driver.
After extensive negotiations, the tow company settled the wrongful-death claim for $1 million.
After the settlement was reached, the negligent homicide criminal case proceeded to trial. The defendant was able to convince the jury that there was a reasonable doubt about whether his intoxication had caused the injury, or whether the death had been caused by the boys walking on the traveled portion of the roadway. Consequently, the driver was found not guilty.
While the effect of a not guilty verdict would have been devastating to the wrongful-death claim, because the claim was promptly settled for $1,000,000, the family was able to close the personal injury claim without the heart wrenching process of trying the case after the defendant had been found not guilty in the criminal arena.