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Man Killed In Accident With Truck

Missouri Lawyers Weekly, December 9, 2002

Verdicts & Settlements: “Man Killed In Accident With Truck

Lawsuit Over Kansas Crash Filed In Missouri

$4.5 Million Settlement

Michael Brouhard was killed in an accident with a United Van Lines tractor-trailer on Oct. 31, 2001. His wife and three children sued the trucking company and its driver for wrongful death.

Brouhard, 47, was driving a 1998 Honda Accord from Topeka to Manhattan, Kan., to visit his son at Kansas State University. His wife Toni was a passenger.

About an hour west of Topeka, east-bound traffic on Interstate 70 was diverted onto one of the westbound lanes due to construction. As Brouhard’s westbound car was about to leave the end of the 10-mile construction zone, Paul Carroll’s United Van Lines truck was entering from the east.

Carroll slammed on the truck’s brakes when he realized he was approaching the vehicle in from of him too quickly. He lost control of the 80,000-pound truck, veered into the westbound lane and hit Brouhard’s car head on. Brouhard was killed instantly, while Toni went to the hospital with minor injuries and was released the same day.

Even though the crash occurred in Kansas, the plaintiffs sued in Jackson County, Mo., since United Van Lines is a Missouri corporation with its principal place of business in suburban St. Louis. Venue was proper in Jackson County under 508.070 RSMo, which provides for venue “in any town or county where the motor carrier operates.” United Van Lines and Vincent Fister Inc. – Carroll’s employer, which was United Van Lines’ agent – operated in Jackson County.

Brouhard was an engineer with Western Resources Inc., an electric utility in Kansas. He had worked for the company for over 20 years and was earning $95,000 annually. Toni is a public school teacher in Topeka.

The case settled for $4.5 million after a “mock trial” mediation session in which the plaintiffs showed videotaped statements of witnesses and key documents establishing liability and damages. They used Sanction II software made by Verdict Systems LLC to display the videotapes, key documents, accident scene photos and family photos.

Type of Action: Automobile accident

Type of Injuries: Death

Court/Case Number/Date: Jackson County Circuit Court/02CV208748/September 2002

Caption: Brouhard, et al. v. United Van Lines, LLC, et al.

Judge, Jury or ADR: Jury

Name of Judge: Sandra C. Midkiff

Verdict of Settlement: $4.5 million settlement

Special Damages: $2.2 million lost wages and fringe benefits

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Last Offer: N/A

Last Demand: N/A

Attorneys for Plaintiff: Brian F. McCallister and Joseph P. Masterson, The McCallister Law Firm P.C., Kansas City; Cynthia Clark Campbell, Campbell Law Firm, Kansas City; John Petrini, Borton, Petrini and Conron, Bakersfield, California

Insurance Carrier: Transguard Insurance Company of America Inc, (Primary for Vincent Fister Inc,); North American Specialty Insurance Company (excess for Vincent Fister Inc,); Zurich/American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company (excess for United Van Lines)

Plaintiff’s Experts: L. Kenneth Hubbell, Kansas City (economist); Stan Oglesby, Concordia (accident reconstructionist)

Defendant’s Experts: None