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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Tractor-trailer crossed median, killing oncoming driver

Wrongful Death - Head-on - Survival

Tractor-trailer crossed median, killing oncoming driver

VERDICT (P) $8,466,656

CASE Michael E Prociak, as Administrator of the Estate of Colleen A. Shea v. Jerry R. Slyter, Page Transportation Inc., Keith Titus Corporation, John Pfrommer, LLC, and Page EX C., Inc., No. 3:02-CV-0168

COURT U.S. District Court, Middle District, Scranton, PA

JUDGE A. Richard Caputo

DATE 5/30/2003

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY(S) David A. Aikens, Jr., HKQ Law, Kingston, PA Joseph A. Quinn, HKQ Law, Kingston, PA Michelle M. Quinn, HKQ Law, Kingston, PA

DEFENSE ATTORNEY(S) Harold J. Friedman, Friedman, Gaythwaite, Wolf & Leavitt, Portland, ME Francis G. Wenzel, Polachek & Associates, Wilkes-Barre, PA

FACTS & ALLEGATIONS Plaintiff's decedent Colleen Shea, 27, an accountant, was killed in a head-on collision while travel-ing on I-81 in Susquehanna County. A tractor-trailer driven by Jerry Slyter sustained a blowout of the front left tire, crossed the median and struck Shea's late-model Mitsubishi SUV

Shea's estate sued Slyter and his employer, Keith Titus Corp., along with the following Keith Titus' subsidiaries: Page Transportation Inc., Weedsport, N.Y.; Page E.TC. Inc., Weedsport; and John Pfrommer LLC, Douglassville. The suit alleged that the defendants' negligence and reckless indiffer-ence caused Shea's wrongful death.

The estate argued that the crash should have been avoidable despite the blowout, which, it claimed, occurred 1,000 feet before the truck crossed the median. Counsel for the estate argued that Slyter should have been able to regain control in this space, but could not because of defective brakes. The plain-tiff also alleged that Slyter was excessively fatigued due to the number of days, and number of hours per day, that he had been driving, which exceeded federal regulations.
The defendants contended that Slyter made all reasonable efforts to stop his truck, and denied that the defendants' con-duct rose to the level of reckless disregard or indifference.

At the time of her death, Shea earned approximately $36,000 per year as an accountant, and had accepted an offer for a marketing and management position at a different firm for $50,000.

Her estate claimed that she was alive for up to eight minutes after the accident, and was burned to death. The estate sought survival damages for the pain and suffering and mental anguish she sustained during that time. It also sought damages for the loss of her services and contributions to her parents, her lost earning potential, and funeral expenses.

An expert for the defense testified that Shea died on impact.

The jury determined thaf the defendants' negligence caused Shea's death. They attributed 50% of the negligence to Keith Ttus Corp., 5 % to Slyter and 15 % to each of the remain-ing defendants. They awarded a total of $5,716,656 in compensatory damages, but nothing on the claim for survival damages.

In separate deliberations, the jury found that all the defendants except Slyter were liable for punitive damages due to their reckless indifference. Accordingly, they awarded $1.25 million in punitives against Keith Titus Corp., and $500,000 against each of the remaining companies.

The total jury award was $8,466,656.

ESTATE $11,000 past lost house hold services
$1,000,000 future lost house hold services
$21,174 funeral burial expense
$10,000 past loss of pecuniary contribution
$470,000 future lost pecuniary contribution
$2,750,000 punitive damages
$4,204,482 lost earning potential

INSURER(S) Ace Insurance (primary) for all defendants
AIG (excess)

TRIAL DETAILS Trial Length: 4 weeks
Jury Deliberations: 8 hours
Jury Composition: 8-member

EXPERT(S) Walter Kilareski, Ph.D., accident reconstruction, State College, PA
Michael Pepe, accident reconstruction, Indianapolis, IN

Andrew C. Verzilli, Ph.D., vocational assessment, Lansdale, PA
Carl Hunt, M.D., neonatology, Chevy Chase, MD
Richard A. Levy, M.D., pain & suffering evaluations, Scarborough, ME
Wayne Ross, M.D., neuropathology, Lancaster, PA
Stephen B. Wilcox, Ph.D., ergonomics/human factors, Philadelphia, PA Art Atkinson, trucking industry, Glendale, AZ
Walter Guntharp, trucking industry, Indianapolis, IN

DEFENSE EXPERT(S) Gary Ross, M.D., forensic pathology, Scranton, PA

- Joe Dessereau

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



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