A jury in Texas last month awarded a South Texas couple more than $30 million in damages in a lawsuit arising out of a construction site collision. Bick’s Construction, a Fort Worth-based general contractor, was repaving a stretch of road on State Highway 44 in Duval County in June of this year when Joseph C. Drennan collided into a vehicle being driven by James Roberts, the Plaintiff in this case. The Plaintiff contended that the construction company was at fault for failing to use state-mandated signage to ensure the roadway was safe for motorists because of construction hazards.
The Plaintiffs produced about ten witnesses during the trial, including a state trooper and two passing motorists who testified that no construction caution signs were present at the time of the accident. Drennan was traveling westbound, approaching construction when the vehicle in front of him slowed to a stop because of traffic buildup. Drennan failed to control his speed, clipping the vehicle in front of him before entering the eastbound lane, where he impacted the Roberts’ vehicle head-on. The Roberts’ vehicle was launched off the road and rolled multiple times before coming to rest on its side.
Mr. Roberts was badly injured in the collision and is now paralyzed. The jury found both Bick’s and Drennan at fault and awarded Roberts and his wife, Yolanda Ann, $23.3 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Mr. Roberts, a retired football coach, incurred $1 million in past medical bills and will have an additional $2.5 million in future medical bills.
The parties had entered into a high-low agreement prior to the trial. This capped the amount of damages to be paid at $6 million. Under the agreement, there will be no appeal and the $6 million will be paid to Mr.& Mrs. Roberts. Mike Guerra and Jody Mask, lawyers with Guerra & Mask, a firm located in McAllen, Texas, represented the Plaintiffs. They did a very good job in the case. Incidentally, Mike is a very good friend of Russ Abney, a lawyer in our firm.