Court Awards $30M to Teenager
Road-paving firm found negligent in collision By Ryan Poe (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal Saturday, August 15, 2009 Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â “The jury held them accountable for hiring an unqualified driver,” said Scott, who has practiced in Hernando 29 years. Â Bryant’s friend and passenger, Patrick Taylor, was killed in the collision. Both were 16-year-old students and athletes at Hernando High School. Â 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. Â The other 30 percent was split between McCarty and the company that loaded the gravel, which settled out of court. Â McCarty pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault and was put on 15 years probation. Â 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. Â “He requires 24-hour care,” said his dad, Carey Bryant. “It’s turned into my wife’s full-time job.” Â He said the jury’s verdict was the first moment of justice he has felt in the past three years. Â “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.” Â Circuit Court Judge Robert Chamberlin presided over the trial. Attorney Bill Luckett represented APAC-Tennessee. — Ryan Poe:
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