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Motorcycle Accident

July 17, 2013
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Driveway repair impairs traffic flow, leads to motorcycle accident

Action: Civil

Name of Case: Garrett Minniear v. Chase King d/b/a King Masonry LLC

Court: Marion Superior Court, Civil Division

Court Case Number: 49D03-0902-CT-008280

Injuries: Minniear’s injuries included two severely crushed feet, broken vertebrae, road rash, concussion and a comminuted fracture of both bones in his lower right arm.

Court Date: Oct. 25, 2012

Trial Type: Jury Trial

Judge: Hon. Patrick McCarty

Disposition: The jury returned a verdict for compensatory damages of $3 million, which was reduced to $1.8 million for 40 percent comparative fault. An additional $412,644 was added to this amount for post judgment interest which increased the total amount of compensation rendered to $2,212,644. The case is now in appeal.

Plaintiff Attorneys: Richard A. Cook and Bryan Tisch

Defendant Attorneys: W. Brent Threlkeld and Benjamin Stevenson

Insurance: American Family Insurance

Case Information: Minniear was riding a Suzuki Motorcycle southbound in the 7300 block of North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. Meridian Street had four lanes at this location where Chase King d/b/a King Masonry LLC, was repaving a driveway. While doing the construction, King Masonry, placed debris in the western southbound lane of travel in the 7300 block of North Meridian Street, causing southbound traffic to slow and merge into the left lane. King Masonry did not use a flagman, arrow board or advance warning signs to inform the motoring public of the imminent lane closure. Instead, King used undersized cones approximately one foot in height that were not visible until traffic was right on top of the construction site.

King did not secure a permit and approval for the traffic plan for the closure of the lane and shoulder. Had King sought the appropriate permits, municipal authorities would have required a traffic control plan compliant with appropriate standard as set forth in the Indiana Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Minniear had larger vehicles in front of him limiting his view of what was ahead. When a truck Minniear was following in the right lane merged left close to the hazard, Minniear had to quickly decide how to extricate himself. He could not go right because there was a dump truck on the shoulder facing the wrong way. After vehicles directly ahead of him merged left, Minniear took evasive action and merged left between two other vehicles in the left lane. It was necessary for Minniear to cut left around the outside of the truck ahead of him to avoid hitting it.

When Minniear moved slightly left of the vehicles in the left lane, he hit a raised median separating the north and southbound lanes. This caused Minniear to lose control, accelerate and careen back across the two southbound lanes. He struck a pile of debris which sent him and his motorcycle airborne into a front lawn. After his motorcycle landed in the front lawn, Minniear continued moving and struck a lamp post before he and his motorcycle came to a stop together near a large fir tree. Minniear sustained a concussion and was unable to recall how the accident occurred.

Conflicting testimony was presented by the witnesses concerning the motorcycle’s exact speed. The crash report showed all but one of the testifying eyewitnesses had estimated Minniear was going “only” 35 to 40 mph. In addition to the parties, a number of other witnesses testified. These included six eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers dispatched to the scene, a city inspector, doctors and experts. Gary Chambers from Wolf Technical established safety guidelines for a temporary lane closure for a construction site as did several police officers and the city inspector. Minniear’s injuries included two severely crushed feet, broken vertebrae, road rash, concussion and a comminuted fracture of both bones in his lower right arm. Minniear’s medical expenses were $136,000, to a low of $82,000 for Stanley v. Walker reductions. Both compensatory and punitive damages were sought. The jury saw fit to award only compensatory damages and found total damages in the sum of $3 million, which was reduced by 40 percent comparative fault by the plaintiff, who was alleged to have operated his motorcycle at an unsafe speed and left of center. Prejudgment interest increased the total amount of compensation rendered to $2,212,644. The case is now in appeal.

Submitting Attorney: Richard A. Cook•
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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