As a Missouri semi truck accident lawyer, I was interested to see a lawsuit arising out of a relatively rare accident involving two large commercial trucks. In Bradshaw v. FFE Transportation Services, David Booker, while working for FFE, crashed his tractor-trailer into a tractor-trailer driven by James Bradshaw. Bradshaw’s lawsuit claimed he was permanently impaired by the resulting damage to his neck and shoulder, and a jury awarded him $1 million in damages twice—the second time after the judge agreed to a retrial. FFE and Booker argued that the district court made a variety of potentially dispositive decisions wrongly, but the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.
In January of 2006, Booker’s truck crashed into Bradshaw’s truck outside Hope, Ark. Details of the accident were not provided, but Bradshaw’s doctors later testified that he suffered permanent neck and shoulder injuries, particularly instability at the C-5 vertebrae. FFE and Booker admitted liability before trial, leaving only the issue of damages to be tried. Before trial, FFE and Booker opposed all of Bradshaw’s witnesses, but not to his primary treating doctor and chiropractor. They ultimately stipulated to the use of the chiropractor’s testimony via video deposition. The jury awarded $1 million to Bradshaw. However, the court ultimately agreed with FFE and Booker that a new trial should be held 11 months later. The defendants disclosed new witnesses one month before retrial, and the district court sustained Bradshaw’s objection. It also denied the defense’s objection to the same video deposition testimony, and permitted Bradshaw’s doctor to use new illustrations in his testimony. The jury again awarded $1 million to Bradshaw.
The defendants made several arguments on appeal, none of which swayed the Eighth Circuit. They first argued that Bradshaw didn’t properly disclose the content of his experts’ testimony during the first trial, and thus should not have been permitted to use them in the second trial. The district court ruled that they waived their objections by failing to make them in time, and the Eighth agreed. Nor did the district court abuse its discretion by not admitting the defendants’ new experts, the Eighth said; the court simply closed discovery altogether. The defendants also argued that the illustrations used in expert testimony at the second trial should not have been permitted, but the Eighth Circuit found that they were within the trial court’s discretion; they were accurate and the jury was properly instructed on them. Nor is it a problem that they were not timely disclosed, the court said; there was no need to disclose them, and anyway the issue was not raised at trial. Thus, the Eighth Circuit upheld the trial court.
As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, I think this kind of case illustrates how far a trucking company will go to avoid having a legal judgment entered against it. Two courts found the issues raised in this appeal to be without merit, but FFE and Booker pressed on with their appeals, spending more time as well as money on attorney fees. Losing a lawsuit costs money to a trucking company, of course, and likely drives up its insurance rates. It also could make the trucking company look unsafe to journalists, other trucking accident plaintiffs and federal regulators—which ultimately costs money or even threatens the company’s existence. Victims usually can’t match all of the money and legal resources they pour into these appeals, which is why it’s vital for victims to have an experienced southern Illinois big rig accident lawyer by their side.
If your family has suffered an injury or death because of an accident with an 18-wheeler, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. You can send us a message online or call 1-877-78-3400 today.
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