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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. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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