Mother Obtains $1,508,500 Settlement for Son Killed in Westport
Posted on August 12th, 2015 by Zane Cagle
Man Dragged under Car in Westport, Kansas City, Missouri
Plaintiff’s counsel praised the collection of evidence by the Kansas City Police Department. Attorney Zane Cagle stated,
“The police department’s collection of evidence was superior to that usually seen in pedestrian death cases.” Likewise, Mr. Cagle said, “The KCPD collection of evidence really helped us make the case.”
In the early morning hours of May 30, 2014, Derek Mael and a passenger in his motor vehicle were looking for a parking space in the Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri. While attempting to locate a parking space, Mael and his passenger became involved in a verbal exchange with two bicyclists. Mael and his passenger then continued down the street and parked. Once parked the bicyclists returned on foot and a physical altercation between the four men started. One witness reported that Mael was “knocked out” by one of the bicyclists and was last seen lying in the prone position in the middle of 42nd Street. As Mael lay unconscious in the roadway, the altercation between his passenger and two bicyclists continued.
Meanwhile, Defendant McLaughlin was traveling eastbound on 42nd Street in his motor vehicle. McLaughlin then topped a slight hill at the location in which Mael was lying unconscious in 42nd Street. Thereafter, McLaughlin continued eastbound on 42nd Street to southbound Broadway Boulevard before stopping his motor vehicle.
However, once the parties involved in the altercation noticed Mael’s body was missing, the altercation ended. As Mael’s body was not present in the roadway, his passenger and a local business employee began running in pursuit of the blood trail present on 42nd Street to southbound Broadway Boulevard. After following the blood trial nearly three blocks, they discovered Mael’s body entangled in the undercarriage of McLaughlin’s motor vehicle.
Defendant admitted to the reporting police officer at the accident site that he had been drinking. McLaughlin stated to the reporting police officer that he noticed a body in the roadway, but didn’t know it was a body at the time. Furthermore, McLaughlin stated to the reporting police officer that he didn’t have time to avoid or get out of the way and then his motor vehicle felt like it was performing differently when he turned onto southbound Broadway Boulevard.
After the incident McLaughlin was given a field sobriety test and blood alcohol test which indicated his blood alcohol was in excess of the legal limit. Likewise, the investigating officers found half-empty alcohol containers in McLaughlin’s motor vehicle subsequent to the incident. As a result of the incident, McLaughlin plead guilty to the criminal charges of driving while intoxicated and operating of a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.
Mael survived the incident and was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. On June 6, 2014, Mael died of complications related to blunt force trauma injuries to his head. Mael was a graduate of Shawnee Mission North High School and worked at an area hardware store. At the time of his death Mael was not married and did not have children.
Derek Mael’s mother brought a lawsuit alleging McLaughlin was negligent by failing to keep a careful lookout, striking and dragging her son with his motor vehicle which directly caused or directly contributed to cause of his death.
The Plaintiff, Debra Mael settled with McLaughlin’s insurance company Auto Owners Insurance for the applicable policy limits of $1,500,000.00 on July 1, 2014. As well, Plaintiff obtained settlements from AAA Insurance in the amount of $8,500.00.00
Zane T. Cagle of The Cagle Law Firm of St. Louis, Missouri, and Clifford K. Wells of Herman & Wells of St. Petersburg, Florida represented Debra Mael and the estate of Derek Mael.
Zagler, A.S. Mother of man dragged under car settles with driver. Missouri Lawyers Weekly 8/5/15.