Court Awards $30M to Teenager

Road-paving firm found negligent in collision By Ryan Poe (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal Saturday, August 15, 2009   A DeSoto County Circuit Court jury on Friday awarded a $30 million judgment to a teenager who received permanent brain damage in a traffic collision three years ago.   Ethan Bryant spent eight months in a coma after a gravel truck plowed into the side of his pickup in August 2006 at Malone and Goodman roads in Southaven.   Paul Scott, one of the attorneys representing the Bryant family, said the truck driver’s load was 20,000 pounds overweight and the driver had little experience.   “The jury held them accountable for hiring an unqualified driver,” said Scott, who has practiced in Hernando 29 years.   Bryant’s friend and passenger, Patrick Taylor, was killed in the collision. Both were 16-year-old students and athletes at Hernando High School.   The jury found that APAC-Tennessee Inc. — a road-paving company that hired gravel-truck driver Chad McCarty — was 70 percent responsible for the wreck.   The other 30 percent was split between McCarty and the company that loaded the gravel, which settled out of court.   McCarty pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault and was put on 15 years probation.   Bryant, now 19, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that left him incapable of living without help. His mother, Kateri Bryant, gave up her job to take care of her son.   “He requires 24-hour care,” said his dad, Carey Bryant. “It’s turned into my wife’s full-time job.”   He said the jury’s verdict was the first moment of justice he has felt in the past three years.   “I think the proudest moment we have was when all 12 jurors stood up and returned a verdict that APAC exercised extreme negligence,” he said. “DeSoto County residents spoke very loudly that these kind of trucking companies will not be tolerated.”   Circuit Court Judge Robert Chamberlin presided over the trial. Attorney Bill Luckett represented APAC-Tennessee. — Ryan Poe:

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