Assault & Battery – January 27, 2005 Newman v. Cole, et al. Defendants were sixteen year old decedent’s father and stepmother. Father left his house to find decedent when he learned decedent had failed to do a household chore. When the father located decedent, he allegedly struck him in the face with his hand and took him back home. At the home, Father struck both decedent and his younger brother in the face with his hand. The father and decedent began to argue on the front lawn. The father forced the decent to the ground and held him down as he hit decedent in the side of the chest with his fist. The stepmother sprayed decedent in the face with a water hose while the father held him down. The stepmother then called the police while the father held him down on the ground for twenty minutes. They remained in this position until a police officer arrived. The officer found that decedent was unconscious. His face was purple from extensive facial hemorrhaging and he had no pulse or respiration. Efforts to revive decedent at the scene were unsuccessful. He was placed on life support at the hospital and died the next morning. The cause of death was asphyxiation. Plaintiff alleged that the father had abused the decedent on previous occasions. The father and stepmother were charged with criminal manslaughter and child abuse. The civil case was dismissed on parental immunity. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded. VERDICT — $9,300,000 for Plaintiff.
Motor Vehicle Accident – September 22, 2005 Debell, et. al. v. Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives, et. al. Mother and daughter were returning home to Baldwin County from daughter’s chemotherapy treatment and surgery at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Their car was stopped at a red light, waiting for an eighteen wheeler to cross the intersection. A car driven by an AREA employee and owned by AREA rear ended them. The impact propelled the plaintiffs’ car into the intersection and into the path of the eighteen wheeler. The employee was given a breathalyzer two hours later which measured .09, indicating he had had at least eight beers. Defendants’ admitted liability for the accident, but maintained the accident was caused by the employee taking his eyes off the road because he dropped his cellphone and reached down to retrieve it. AREA maintained no policy forbidding drinking and driving a company vehicle. The plaintiff mother suffered a herniated cervical disc ($7,000 in medical expenses). The daughter, who had had surgery in connection with cancer treatments the morning of the accident and who had had major surgery she was still recovering from five weeks before the accident, was hospitalized from the accident and underwent five additional surgeries ($140,000 in medical expenses). VERDICT — $2,670,000 ($525,000 for the mother, $2,145,000 for the daughter).