John, Jane and Mary Brown’s Story
John Brown grew up in a small farm town in north Louisiana. His family was not well off, but they made do. They had each other. John went to high school, but he didn’t like it. He got into some trouble with the wrong people and eventually dropped out all together. He worked odd jobs around town, on farms, at convenience stores, at car lots, and car washes. He was able to make a life for himself.
Jane Brown moved to Louisiana when she was in high school. She met a man that she thought would be her savior and married him at the age of 17. They had two children, and after a few years, they divorced. Jane worked jobs around town trying to make ends meet to support her and her two children. Jane met another man and eventually had a child by him. Now she was raising three children on her own. She did the best that she could. She knew that she would have to return to school to get her GED if she ever wanted to get a good job. That was her plan and her intent.
John and Jane met through a friend. While their lives were very different, they seemed to “hit it off”. John was good to Jane. They were friends. They enjoyed spending time together and John liked to spend time with Jane and her three children. After some time, Jane became pregnant with John’s child. They had a beautiful baby girl named Mary. She was like the “glue that solidified” their relationship. They were a family, John, Jane, Mary and the other three kids. They were happy.
John was working at a car dealership as a porter. He would drive cars to get gas in them, drop them off to customers, wash the cars on the lot. He liked his job. It was a steady income for him and Jane and the kids.
Jane was working at ABC Trucking Company in the office. She had a long drive to and from work each day, but it was good money for her, since she didn’t have her GED yet, and it helped to keep the bills paid and the kids fed.
It was cold, as February often was in Louisiana. Jane was off work and home with 18 month old Mary, the three older kids were in school, and John was at work. Jane decided to surprise John by picking him up at the dealership and taking him to eat lunch with her and Mary. It was a rare treat to get to go in town and be able to eat lunch together. Jane drove to the dealership with Mary in her car seat. When they got there to pick up John, he wanted to go in his car so Jane and Mary got in with him. They stopped at the Citgo station to get gas before going on to Burger King for lunch.
They were pulling out of the gas station parking lot. John was driving, Jane was in the front passenger seat, and Mary was in the backseat. There was an XYZ Trucking Company 18-wheeler stopped on the road waiting to turn in to the gas station parking lot. The 18-wheeler could not turn in because John was in the driveway. John could not pull out because he could not see around the 18-wheeler to check for oncoming traffic. So here they sat, John was stopped in the drive to the Citgo Station waiting to make a left turn and the 18-wheeler stopped on the highway waiting to turn into the parking lot. This went on for approximately three (3) minutes.
The driver of the 18-wheeler (“trucker”) began to repeatedly wave at John and Jane to come on past his vehicle so that he could turn in. He checked his left-hand mirrors several times, and continually waved for John to pull out. John and Jane relied on the trucker because they could not see. The trucker continued to wave at them to come on out and continued to check his mirror. They thought it was safe. They thought he was checking traffic for their safety. So, they relied on his judgment and pulled out into traffic directly into the path of an ABC Trucking Company 18-wheeler that was traveling at approximately 40 to 45 miles per hour in the inside lane.
The crash was instant, loud, and horrific. The ABC Trucking Company 18-wheeler T-boned John and Jane’s vehicle. The car John, Jane, and Mary were riding in was totally destroyed and pushed down the roadway approximately 50 feet from the initial point of impact before both vehicles came to a stop. Bystanders immediately responded and attempted to help John, Jane, and Mary. One person talks to Jane and noticed that there was a baby in the car. Another person got the baby out through the back glass, as she was bleeding from her head and her nose. John was trapped in the car. His legs were pinned in underneath the dash and no one could get him out. The driver of the 18-wheeler that hit them was in shock and was visibly shaken up by what he could see.
Where was the trucker? After this horrible and severe crash that happened right in front of his eyes, the trucker drove on into the parking lot, went into the Citgo, sat down, ordered and ate his lunch. He did not report to anyone that he had been involved, he did not tell anyone about the wave, he did not call 911, he did not render aid to John, Jane, or Mary. He did not do anything. He simply went inside and ate his lunch and hoped that no one would be able to identify him. He hoped that the havoc he had just caused out on the highway right in front of him would simply go away. It didn’t.
John has permanent brain damage. He will never work again. He has permanent chronic pain because every rib on the left side of his body was broken, a collapsed lung, a blood clot in his lung, a broken collarbone, a bruised lung, a broken toe, removal of one of his two kidneys, and removal of his only spleen. John has memory problems, concentration problems, constant headaches, anger problems, chronic pain on his left side, chronic back pain, trouble sleeping, and he will never work again.
John has lost much of his sense of taste and much of his sense of smell. John is not able to pay attention or remember things. He is not able to think clearly. He has particular difficulty with organizing things. He is depressed and anxious, and he is irritable. He is angry. He also gets tired easily. He is withdrawn and keeps to himself.
Jane had a fifteen-centimeter long cut to her scalp that had to have a drain tube inserted to keep the fluid draining off and reduce swelling, a broken collarbone, a broken rib, and an injured left shoulder surgery, that later required surgery.
And poor little Mary had a skull fracture or broken skull, her whole face was black and blue and her right eye swollen shut. She had bleeding in her brain. Mary now has permanent brain damage and will need lifelong assistance because of the injuries to her frontal lobe which will prohibit her from functioning as a normal child or a normal adult for the rest of her life. Many experts, doctors, and specialists carefully evaluated Mary. They all determined that Mary suffers from permanent brain damage. She will never be the same or normal. She will forever have deficits and limitations. She will likely never complete normal school. She will likely never have a normal life or a normal job.
Mary has seizures. Mary has a hard time paying attention. She is not able to concentrate normally. She is hyper and impulsive and does not think about what she says. She is not able to remember things well. She has a hard time with emotional control. She has difficulty with initiation, which means getting up and doing things.
Mary needs a lot of help. She is at risk for getting hurt because she doesn’t understand the danger involved in the things she does. For example, she jumps out of trees, she throws puppies off the porch, she rides her bike down the middle of the street, she just walks into people’s houses without knocking. As Mary gets older, she will grow into her problems, not out of them. Her behavioral problems, meaning how she conducts herself, will become worse. She needs medicine for her behavioral issues but if she takes the medicines, they make her sleepy and interfere with her ability to pay attention and learn. As Mary’s schooling gets more difficult over time, she will not be able to keep up with kids her age. Her bad behavior at home will only get worse and will eventually spill over to school. As she becomes a teenager, she will have a hard time understanding dating and similar types of relationships. She is at a higher risk for doing drugs or becoming a teenage mother.
Mary needs to be in special education. As she ages, Mary’s judgment will be impaired. She will not be able to organize her daily activities and act in an adult way. Because of her injured brain and behavioral problems, Mary will not be able to work.
Throughout the case, John and Jane contended that the trucker driving for XYZ Trucking Company was at fault. He had waved them out into traffic. He told them by his wave and his continual mirror checks that the path was safe. He was the only reason they pulled out into traffic.
After a thorough investigation was done, John and Jane also contended that the trucker that was driving for XYZ Trucking Company on the date of the accident was negligently hired, retained, and trained to drive.
John and Jane claimed that as a result of XYZ Trucking Company’s negligence, the trucker stopped in the road and created a situation where John and Jane could not see to the left, and then repeatedly waved them out into traffic. When John pulled out, they were struck by the ABC Trucking Company 18-wheeler as a result of driver error of the trucker driving for XYZ Trucking Company.
After six long years of being ignored by the trucker and XYZ Trucking Company, after being called liars, cheats, and frauds, after being told that the wreck was all their fault, the case settled with XYZ Trucking Company paying in excess of $3,000,000 to settle the claim.
**A confidentiality agreement was signed at the time of the settlement of this case. Names have been changed and dates and amounts have been approximated to protect the confidentiality of this settlement.