At the end of 2019, Broderick Ferguson was looking for a legal team to help him recover from a negligent trucking company whose driver’s careless actions left him with extremely deteriorated vision, intense headaches and a search for answers. After previous counsel expressed doubt in Broderick’s claims, he knew he needed someone who believed in him and his case. He realized he needed a firm with experience in exploring a seemingly easy case to find the details that make a difference in the client’s case and ultimately their life. He hired Beasley Allen lawyers Chris Glover, managing attorney of the firm’s Atlanta office, and Donovan Potter, Sr., also based in the firm’s Atlanta office.
Broderick’s life changed forever when he was driving home from a store where he had gotten his cell phone repaired in August 2016. While driving down Lenox Road, NE in Atlanta, Georgia, out of the corner of his eye Broderick saw the red grille of a 2006 Peterbilt dump truck quickly closing in on the driver’s side of his 2010 Dodge Challenger. While he attempted to avoid being hit, he tried to brake and ride the curb to his right.
The truck was driven by defendant KC Trucking’s employee Ameer Lawton. Lawton was inattentive when making a left-hand turn onto Lenox Road and completed the turn without the assistance of a traffic control person known as a “flagger.” Despite Broderick’s efforts to avoid Lawton’s truck, Lawton plowed into the rear driver side of Broderick’s vehicle.
An eyewitness testified that he heard the engine of the dump truck, driven by Lawton, rev up and he saw the truck “barrel” out into the street and crash into Broderick’s red car. The eyewitness confirmed that there was no one to direct traffic near the construction site where Lawton was making the turn after delivering a load of materials he had transported to the site. The Atlanta Police Department also cited Lawton for failure to yield, which caused his truck to collide with Broderick’s vehicle.
When Beasley Allen lawyers investigated the case, they learned that KC Trucking failed to train Lawton on how to operate the truck he was driving at the time of the crash and failed to provide traffic control assistance at the construction site, the location of the crash. The defendant trucking company also failed to provide Lawton with any driver training or safety courses and negligently relied on Lawton’s training he’d received approximately 10 years prior to his hire date. Additionally, the only measure KC Trucking used to assess Lawton’s driving was a single test drive. The defendant also failed to obtain records of Lawton’s driving history, which would have revealed numerous speeding violations and failure to obey traffic signals. Lawton also had at least one license suspension on his record.
“This type of negligence is something we see all too often when our clients are injured through no fault of their own,” said Potter, Sr. “We not only believed Mr. Ferguson, we have been inspired by his determination to get answers and seek justice.”
Before the crash, Broderick was a healthy man in his early 30s. With the exception of a college football injury that had completely healed long before the crash and was unrelated to injuries he sustained in the crash, Broderick did not have any health issues. Specifically, he did not have any problems with headaches or with his vision.
The impact from the dump truck caused Broderick’s head to violently hit near the top of his door. For approximately five months after the crash, Broderick continued to experience and receive treatment for headaches (specifically migraines), neck pain, bilateral shoulder pain, back pain in the lumbar region, and severe muscle spasms. He later learned that he suffered bulging discs at the C2-5 levels.
In 2017, Broderick continued to suffer painful headaches and then began to lose his eyesight. He sought medical treatment from various optometrists and ophthalmologists for his worsening eye symptoms from 2017 through 2019. His headaches increased in severity and his vision drastically decreased to the point of blindness. In early 2018, he was diagnosed as legally blind and began experiencing extreme light sensitivity, excessive watering and redness in both eyes.
At first, doctors diagnosed Broderick with damage to the retina in both eyes (iridocyclitis and bilateral hypertensive retinopathy). They ruled out autoimmune issues and heredity as causes for Broderick’s intense headaches and blindness. Still, as his recently developed conditions continued to further decline, Broderick remained persistent in seeking answers for the cause of his painful new reality.
It wasn’t until June 2019 that Broderick’s blindness, problems with his eyes, and headaches were all connected to the crash. He was referred to Dr. Gagan Sawhney, an ophthalmologist surgeon specializing in glaucoma. Dr. Sawhney connected the dots, giving Broderick answers and a diagnosis. Dr. Sawhney ultimately conducted four surgeries on Broderick – two surgeries on each eye.
The Beasley Allen team handling Broderick’s case spent countless hours researching his medical issues and reviewing his medical records. They had conversations with Dr. Sawhney to understand his determinations regarding Broderick’s medical condition and the status of his eyesight issues. Additionally, the legal team deposed Dr. Sawhney who testified that Broderick’s cataracts were very severe and that he would only see the type of cataracts that Broderick suffered from – chronic angle-closure glaucoma/hyper-mature white cataracts – when an injury or trauma to the eye had occurred. He also testified that the cataracts in both of Broderick’s eyes were considered the worst based on a scale for measuring such eye conditions. Dr. Sawhney explained that glaucoma is something normally experienced by older adults in their 50s and 60s, not by patients in their 30s.
Further, Dr. Sawhney testified that it was normal for Broderick’s eye issues to appear approximately 18 months after the crash because it takes time for cataracts to form. He explained that because of the nerve damage caused by the glaucoma that was caused by the trauma he suffered as a result of the crash with Lawton, Broderick will never regain his eyesight.
Currently, Broderick’s vision is not good enough to permit him to legally drive and may not even be safe enough for him to be employed. Dr. Sawhney said that Broderick will need medical care for the remainder of his life and will always have glaucoma that must be treated with medications, which will also need to be monitored every three months for the rest of his life. Broderick will likely never be able to watch television at a normal distance nor read a book and runs the risk of losing his eyesight completely as a result of the trauma-induced glaucoma.
In June, KC Trucking agreed to a settlement for the full amount of its insurance policy limit – $1 million. Prior to Chris and Donovan’s involvement in the representation of Ferguson, the last known offer from the defendants was $10,000.00.
“The outcome of the case is a positive one but Broderick is a young man and his life was permanently altered the day of the crash,” said Glover. “His life will follow a completely different path than what I believe he had planned. While we can’t change those tragic outcomes, it has been an honor to help him as he bravely navigated the judicial process seeking justice and accountability from those who were at fault. Some cases are fairly simple and others are difficult at every step. Broderick’s case was the latter. Liability was contested, but his injuries were very difficult to link up to the truck crash. I’m thankful to work with lawyers like Donovan Potter, Sr., who believed this client from day one that his blindness was caused by the car crash. Donovan worked hard to put together the team of experts needed to prove his significant loss.”