Cagle Law Firm

Policy Limit Settlement, Southeast Missouri

POLICY LIMITS SETTLEMENT

Plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was hit by a drunk driver in Southeastern Missouri. Unfortunately, the driver of the truck that hit the car in which Plaintiff was riding died as a result of the crash. It was later discovered that the operator of the truck did not have a license or any auto insurance to compensate Plaintiff for her injuries.

Plaintiff sued the owner of the truck claiming negligent entrustment since the decedent was not a licensed driver. The owner of the truck denied allowing the decedent permission to use his truck at the time of the crash. Plaintiff alleged that since the owner of the truck had left the keys in the ignition, the windows down and knew of decedent’s intent to use said truck, entrustment could be inferred. Plaintiff argued the decision in Long v. Missouri Delta Med. Ctr., 33 S.W.3d 629, 637 (Mo. App. 2000) (stating behavior in not removing the keys from the ignition of his vehicle does not need to be the sole cause of the Plaintiffs’ injuries, but must be one of the efficient causes thereof without which the injury would not have occurred).

In addition, Plaintiff brought an action against the two (2) separate auto insurance carriers pursuant to those companies’ uninsured motorist provisions.

Plaintiff alleged that as a result of the car crash, she sustained serious injuries to her leg which required hospitalization for approximately one (1) month and several subsequent surgeries. Prior to trial the insurance carrier for the owner of the truck agreed to pay the applicable policy limits. In addition, as a question of fact existed for a jury to decide relating to if entrustment of the truck had occurred, the insurance company agreed to settlement.

Jones Act Confidential Settlement, St. Louis City

Confidential Settlement

Plaintiff alleged that  while attempting to check tow as a lead-man he slipped and fell severely injuring his right knee which required surgery. Moreover, Plaintiff claimed that he would require additional medical treatment for his injuries and Defendant failed to maintenance and cure him. Plaintiff brought his action pursuant to the provisions of Title 46 U.S.C., Section 688, et seq., commonly called the Jones Act and General Maritime Laws of the United States.

Plaintiff’s case was filed in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri pursuant to R.S.Mo. § 347.069 prior to tort reform occurring on August 25, 2005. Thereafter, the Court by consent of the parties transferred to the case to the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, State of Missouri.

Plaintiff alleged several theories of negligence against the Defendant. First, Plaintiff alleged was negligent in maintaining equipment and the vessel. Secondly, Plaintiff alleged his employer had provided an unseaworthy vessel as barges to which said vessel was towing lacked adequate non-skid and/or non-slip paint thus creating a dangerous condition. Therefore, in reliance of Seas Shipping Co., Inc. v. Sieracki, 328 U.S. 85, 94 (1946), Plaintiff alleged that his employers’ duty to provide a seaworthy ship was absolute and non-delegable.

Finally, Plaintiff alleged cumulative trauma to his knee as a result of working on steel surfaces for eleven (11) years for the Defendant. Defendant moved for summary judgment prior to trial stating Plaintiff’s claims should be barred under maritime law by the Primary Duty Rule. As such his employer claimed that Plaintiff’s failure to place non-skid paint on the deck of the vessel caused his injuries.

The Court denied Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and held that the Jones Act is a broad remedial statute that must be liberally construed to further its humanitarian goal of holding barge companies responsible for the dangers to which their employees are exposed. Likewise, other Missouri courts have held that only a very small amount of evidence is required to establish liability in a Jones Act case. Under Missouri law the evidence needed to establish liability in a Jones Act case much less than in an ordinary negligence action. See also, Duncan v. American Commercial Barge Line, LLC, 166 S.W.3d 78 (Mo. App. E.D. 2004).

Subsequent to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment being denied by the Court the parties reached a confidential settlement agreement.

Illinois Confidential Truck Accident Settlment

SEMI TRUCK CRASH CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT

On a snowy February day, Plaintiff was traveling southbound on Illinois Route 3 in Illinois. While traveling on the road Plaintiff noticed a car crash in the northbound lane of Illinois Route 3. Thus, the Plaintiff applied her brakes in an attempt to slow her car. However, when Plaintiff applied the brakes she lost control of her car due to the ice and snow on the road and went into the shoulder of road.

Thereafter, a semi-truck owned and operated by the Defendant crashed into the rear of Plaintiff’s car. Plaintiff alleged Defendant’s negligence and numerous state and Federal regulations violations caused or contributed to cause the crash.

These allegations included:

  • Failing to observe ahead and laterally ahead to avoid objects in the roadway;
  • Going too fast for conditions then and there existing on the roadway;
  • Failing to swerve to avoid hitting Plaintiff’s car;
  • Failing to slow truck despite the weather conditions existing on the roadway;
  • Failing to ensure that he had adequate line-of-sight of the other vehicles and obstructions in the roadway:
  • Following in to close of proximity to Plaintiff’s car;
  • Failing to ensure adequate stopping distance between Defendant’s truck and Plaintiff’s car;
  • Violation of 49 C.F.R. § 395.3(b)(2) in that the driver of the truck had been driving for an long period of time;
  • Violations of 49 C.F.R. § 393.42(a) and 49 C.F.R. § 393.48(a) in failing to keep proper braking equipment;
  • Violations of 49 C.F.R. § 392.7 relating to the truck and trailer; and
  • Violations of 49 C.F.R. § 392.3 in that the driver of the truck was impaired because of fatigue;

As a result of the crash, Plaintiff was ‘life flighted’ to a local hospital. At the hospital, it was determined the Plaintiff had sustained serious injuries to her head, neck, chest and knee. Thereafter, Plaintiff underwent knee surgery as a result of the crash with the truck. The parties reached a confidential settlement agreement only a few weeks prior to trial.

J.K. v. Farmers Insurance & Progressive Northwest Insurance Company

UNDERINSURED MOTORIST POLICY LIMITS SETTLEMENT

Plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was crashed into by a drunk driver. At the time of the car crash the Plaintiff was a minor and unable to bring a cause of action against any responsible parties.

Plaintiff sustained serious injuries to her ankle which required several surgeries as a result of the car crash. The insurance company for the drunk driver agreed to pay its policy limits for Plaintiff’s injuries. However, this would have left the Plaintiff with very little in compensation after paying her medical bills from the severe injuries she suffered. Thus, Plaintiff made additional claims against two other auto insurance companies. Plaintiff made underinsured motorist claims against the insurance companies of the car in which she was a passenger in at the time of the crash and her auto insurance company.

Plaintiff’s counsel obtained the policy limits from both insurance carriers pursuant to each policies underinsured motorist provisions. Therefore, Plaintiff obtained a settlement from three (3) separate insurance companies for her injuries in the car crash.

D.E. et. al v. Confidential

$4.75 MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT FOR CLIENTS EXPOSED TO CHEMICAL

Plaintiffs were performing contracting duties at a chemical plant when a chemical tank over pressurized releasing hazardous chemicals, including bromide vapor. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendant was negligent in storing and recycling butanol acid and adding various compounds which resulted in the chemical tank over pressurizing and exploding.

Defendant failed to activate either the emergency or evacuation alarms even though both where present at the facility. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s actions prior and subsequent to the chemical release violated numerous OSHA regulations and thus Defendant was negligent per se for their injuries. These violations included the following:

  • 29 CFR § 1910.38 in not providing proper exit routes and emergency action plans in the plant
  • 29 CFR § 1910.1200 in not providing the required hazard communication to employees, agents and contractor in the plant
  • 29 CFR § 1917.30(a) in not providing a compliant emergency action plan in the plant
  • 29 CFR § 1918.100 in not providing a complaint emergence action plan in the plant
  • 29 CFR § 1910.36 in not meeting the requirements of an exit routes in plant
  • 29 CFR § 1910.119 in not meeting the reducing the consequences of a toxic chemical release.

Both Plaintiffs claimed they sustained serious injuries to their lungs and respiratory systems including reactive airways disorder syndrome (“RADS”) as a result of the chemical release. Only weeks prior to trial the parties reached a total settlement of $4,750,000.00 for both Plaintiffs.