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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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