Mitch Frost and Jeremy Hazelton Obtain Defense Verdict in Suit Involving Collision Between Farm Tractor and Pickup Truck

The Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama recently entered judgment in favor of an Elberta, Alabama resident represented by Mitch Frost and Jeremy Hazelton.  A jury of Baldwin County residents deliberated for less than an hour before delivering the defense verdict.

The plaintiff was driving a farm tractor on Leiterman Road in rural Elberta, Alabama, where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour. The plaintiff’s tractor, however, would not go any faster than approximately 15 miles per hour, and is considered a slow-moving vehicle under Alabama law. The plaintiff claimed that he made sure all his surroundings were safe by looking behind him and in a side mirror, and used his turn signal prior to making a left hand turn onto John Bloc road. When he made the turn, defendant was attempting to legally pass the Plaintiff, and the vehicles collided. The plaintiff claimed defendant acted negligently in causing the collision.  The defendant, however, said the plaintiff never made any signal that he was going to turn, and as the defendant was passing the plaintiff, the plaintiff suddenly turned in front of him. Though the plaintiff had suffered from prior knee and back issues, he claimed injuries to his knee and his back resulting in over $90,000.00 in medical damages.

Mr. Frost and Mr. Hazelton narrowed the focus of the trial on the plaintiff’s own unreasonable conduct in causing the collision. Despite the fact that the plaintiff claimed he looked behind him prior to making his turn to make sure it was clear, it was obvious to the jury that this claim defied common sense. Also of note was the plaintiff’s claim that he checked his side mirror when photographs taken at the scene revealed no side mirror on the tractor nor was there a broken mirror anywhere on the ground. Mr. Frost and Mr. Hazelton also focused on the inconsistencies between the plaintiff’s testimony regarding his injuries and prior medical treatment and what the plaintiff’s own medical records showed. The jury responded well to the defense.  During brief post trial interviews, a number of jurors said they questioned the credibility of the plaintiff given the lack of evidence of a side mirror and the inconsistent medical testimony. Additionally, many asked, “how could he not see a pickup truck immediately behind him if he looked?” Thus, they believed the Plaintiff turned without looking, making the accident unavoidable.

If you have any questions about this case or the Firm’s Auto Collision Defense practice, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Frost or Mr. Hazelton.