February 6th, 2020 a Georgia federal jury handed down a massive $21 million verdict against an owner-operator and his insurance company in a wrongful death suit.
According to the Complaint obtained by Freight Broker Live, on December 8th, 2016, 80- year old truck driver JW Harper reportedly suffered a medical issue while driving his semi-trailer. Harper lost control of his truck causing the trailer to flip and disconnect from the tractor and strike and kill 50-year old Kip Eugene Holland as he walked home. Harper’s tractor then crossed the road into a parking lot striking two parked vehicles.
According to police, witnesses to the accident located Harper who was unconscious inside the cab of the truck. “When asked, said he had begun choking, having difficulty breathing and thought he passed out,” according to state patrol. “He said he did not remember the crash or what happened.”
Both Harper and Holland were transported to the hospital where Holland passed away from his injuries. Harper was admitted with bleeding on the brain and other injuries. Police state that medical staff stated the bleeding on the brain did not appear to be from the impact of the crash.
Holland’s Family filed the lawsuit in June of 2017 in U.S.District Court in Gainesville, Georgia against Cypress Insurance Company, trucking company JW Harper Farms and Harper alleging Harper had a history of medical issues and should have never been on the road.
The family’s attorney Shane Lazenby recently spoke with the Gainesville Times, stating “The defense attempted to justify Harper’s actions contending his departure from the road was due to a sudden and incapacitating illness as the result of an act of God,” Lazenby said. “Mr. Harper was a 76-year-old man with a plethora of medical problems and records of falsifying his DOT medical exam history on three separate occasions. A medical emergency was in no way unforeseeable.”
The Jury returned a verdict after 40 minutes awarding $13 million for wrongful death, $2 million for pain and suffering and $29,363 for medical and funeral expenses. The jury also awarded $6 million for legal expenses.