Don’t drive distracted. That is the message from a Montgomery County, Alabama jury.
A Montgomery County jury has returned a verdict of $1,272,000.00 after nine days of trial and deliberations before Judge Gregory Griffin.
The trial was over a 2013 accident on US Highway 231 south in Montgomery County when Gregory Moore was driving a rented box truck on wet roads and was distracted by his cell phone while making calls for business. Moore failed to see or stop for a Montgomery County school bus that was fully stopped and flashing for at least 9 seconds while unloading children. Onboard bus video captured the accident sequence.
Moore swerved at the last second in an effort to avoid causing a collision, but clipped the rear of the bus. When Moore swerved, the stopped school bus was then first visible to motorists behind Moore’s box truck.
Michael Duey of Eufaula, Alabama, was following Moore and was unaware a school bus was stopped ahead. Cell phone records revealed Moore, who was working for McKelvey Mechanical, an HV AC company located in Tuscaloosa, was making calls to subcontractors for a government bid at Fort Rucker.
The defense’s own expert testified about accepted studies showing that checking a cell phone for a call can distract a driver for 6 seconds. Moore’s cell phone records revealed approximately 29 incoming and outgoing cell phone calls prior to the accident. The defense contended the calls were inadvertent “butt dial” calls, or that the impact caused the cell phone to make and receive the various calls.
A small car was stopped for the bus in the left northbound lane and children were unloading on the right. As a result, Duey had nowhere to go and was unable to escape collision with the rear of the stopped school bus. Moore’s failure to stop created a sudden emergency for Mr. Duey. Mr. Duey suffered critical injuries and was in a coma for 31 days following the accident. Duey has been left with permanent injuries and substantial unpaid medical charges. No children were hurt.
The plaintiff was represented by Myron Penn and Shane Seaborn of Penn & Seaborn, LLC, and Mark Andrews of Morris Cary Andrews Talmadge and Driggers, LLC. “This jury clearly intended to send the message that distracted driving is dangerous and will not be tolerated in Alabama,” said attorney Shane Seaborn.
Attorney Myron Penn added, “Judge Griffin tried an excellent case. He made sure all evidence was presented fairly, and was fully considered by the jury.”
This was an unnecessary tragedy that should have been prevented. When thinking of using your cell phone while driving remember IT CAN WAIT”, said attorney Mark Andrews.