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Rural Mail Carrier Injured While Delivering Mail Settles for $5.5 Million

Case name and number: Withheld
Principal injuries (in order of severity): Paraplegia/blindness
Special damages: Not applicable
Tried or settled: Settled
Court: Lenoir County Superior Court
Date concluded: December 14, 2006
Name of judge: None (mediation)
Amount: $5,500,000
Insurance carrier: Not applicable
Expert witnesses and areas of expertise: J. Finley Lee, Ph.D., economist from Naples, Fla.; Kerry Nelson, heavy vehicle specialist of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Bruce Holt, RN, CCM, CLCP, life care planner of Pisgah Forest, N.C.; and Richard Bonfiglio, MD., psychiatrist of Murrysville, Pa.
Attorneys for plaintiff: W. Thompson Comerford, Jr., and Kevin J. Williams of Comerford & Britt, LLP, of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Robert E. Whitley of Whitley Law Firm, of Kinston, N.C.
Submitted by: W. Thompson Comerford, Jr., plaintiff’s attorney

Description: This is a personal injury case. Plaintiff was a rural mail carrier in the process of delivering mail when she was struck from the rear by a tractor-trailer that was owned by defendant Chestnutt and operated by defendant Becton. Chestnutt had employed defendant Becton, who had a substantial criminal record. Defendant Ezzell Trucking contracted with Chestnutt to provide services to haul wood chips. Chestnutt operated under his own DOT authority pursuant to a “motor carrier agreement” with Ezzell. Ezzell denied responsibility for the accident.

Plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic by the accident and also lost sight in her right eye. Her husband pursued a claim for loss of consortium. They have one adult child. After substantial discovery on agency issues, defendant Ezzell’s motion for summary judgment was denied. The case proceeded to mediation shortly thereafter and was settled for $5.5 million dollars.