Nodaway County Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Wrongful Death Case03/21/23
Partners Brad Nielsen and Heather Hatley obtained a unanimous defense verdict in a wrongful death case in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri. The team was representing Polk Township, whose dump truck driver pulled out on to US Highway 71 from a gravel road. The plaintiffs, the survivors of the man driving a pickup which rear ended the dump truck resulting in his death, claimed the driver, and hence his employer, was negligent by failing to keep a careful lookout and failing to yield. FSM attorneys argued that it was the deceased himself who failed to keep a careful lookout and rear ended the dump truck. Each party had their own accident reconstructionist, and the defense also relied on a Missouri State Highway Patrol accident reconstruction expert. The plaintiffs asked for $7.5 million in closing argument and accepted up to 50% of the fault for the accident. Mr. Nielsen argued that the decedent was in fact 100% at fault for the wreck and that the plaintiffs failed to prove any damages because grief and bereavement are not recoverable in wrongful death cases.
After about 70 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict. Both Polk Township and its dump truck driver were extremely pleased with the result. It was a true team effort including amazing support staff at the office, since the location of the trial was two hours away.