truck accident law firm, personal injury

$18.79 Million verdict Awarded to man paralyzed by negligent repair returned by Mobile County jury

Colin Lacy was in his late 20s when the crash happened. He drove trucks for FCC Environmental, which collects used oil and other waste from companies for recycling or disposal.

Mr. Lacy’s Truck Accident

On July 14, 2011, Mr. Lacy was traveling from Mobile, Alabama, to a Florida job site when the tanker truck started to shake heavily. He applied the brakes to stabilize the truck as he was trained to do, but instead of safely slowing, the anti-lock brakes locked, and the truck began sliding off the highway. Mr. Lacy lost control of the vehicle through no fault of his own. The truck entered the I-10 median in Niceville, Florida. It rolled over multiple times before coming to a rest on its side.

Negligent Truck Repair

On the day of the truck crash, Mr. Lacy had just picked up his truck from the local Freightline Dealer. It was in the shop for suspension repairs. Empire Truck Sales, LLC serviced the truck but left a lateral control rod detached. The part, also called a track bar, prevents the rear wheels from turning and keeps the vehicle’s rear in line with the rest of the truck. Colin called Freight to report a vibration shortly after leaving Empire. The company told him that everything was ok.

Empire’s error created a dangerous defect that made the truck highly unstable. Mr. Lacy’s complaint also alleged that Empire Truck Sales caused another defect in the truck’s anti-lock brake system when it serviced the vehicle.

The negligent repair that led to Mr. Lacy’s crash would change his life forever.

Mr. Lacy’s Truck Crash Injuries

As the tractor-trailer plunged and rolled down the interstate, Mr. Lacy was ejected from the truck in the rollover crash. His spine was severed at the T-10 level in the middle of the back. His extensive injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down. After spending two months in the hospital, he wasn’t physically able to return to his job. Instead, he was forced to fight through painful rehabilitation therapy.

Physically fit and happy before the accident, Mr. Lacy now had to grapple with the reality of never being able to walk again. He remains in constant pain and suffers from severe spasms in his legs. Everyday tasks and simple things we take for granted are a monumental struggle for Mr. Lacy, so much so that his life now revolves around taking care of himself and getting by. His new normal includes leaving behind a livelihood he worked so hard to achieve. He also faces mounting medical expenses. And, to accommodate his wheelchair, Mr. Lacy had to modify his home just to make everyday tasks more easily accessible.

Mr. Lacy’s Truck Accident Lawsuit

Beasley Allen principal and lead product liability attorney Greg Allen led the litigation of Mr. Lacy’s case along with Beasley Allen attorneys Mike AndrewsKendall Dunson, and Stephanie Monplaisir and co-counsel Charlie Potts of the Briskman & Binion firm in Mobile.

The Verdict

“This verdict will help Colin with his future medical care and other expenses,” Beasley Allen Principal Lawyer Greg Allen said. Colin has now moved into a new home with modifications to accommodate his needs. The home is close to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a rehabilitation clinic where he frequently goes for his continued care.

Because Mr. Lacy and the defendant Empire Truck Sales are both in Mobile, the trial was held in Mobile County Circuit Court. However, Florida State Laws applied in the case because the accident occurred in that state. Unlike Alabama, where each defendant is responsible for paying an equal portion of damages despite their level of involvement, Florida law assigns a percentage of blame to each.

In this case, the jury found that 80% of the blame belonged to Empire Truck Sales. The remaining 20% went to the seat belt manufacturer, Indiana Mills and Manufacturing Inc. (IMMI). IMMI had settled the case out of court before trial.

“The jury in this case got it right; they determined that 80 percent of the fault lies with Empire Truck Sales, LLC and 20 percent with IMMI,” said Charlie Potts. “There has to be a certain level of accountability for companies. Fortunately for Colin, he will now be properly taken care of. And the jury found that Colin was not responsible at all for causing the accident or his injury.”

The trial lasted two weeks under the direction of Judge Mike Youngpeter in the Mobile County Circuit Court. The case is Colin Lacy v. Empire Truck Sales, LLC, 02-CV-2012-902600.

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