Charity Ann McDaniel v. Michael Joshua Hulsey

Date: November 2004
Court: State Court of Clayton County

Catastrophic Accident Litigation

C.A. File No: 2001-CV-05613-E

This matter arose out of a one vehicle accident in which the Plaintiff was a back seat passenger in her own vehicle. The Defendant, who was driving under the influence of marijuana, and was a friend of the Plaintiff, had placed the Plaintiff in the back seat after the Plaintiff passed out from her own intoxication. The Defendant lost control of the Plaintiff's vehicle, overturned several times, and the Plaintiff was ejected. The Defendant subsequently pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to render aid, serious injury by vehicle, and reckless driving. The Plaintiff suffered serious neck injury which rendered her initially quadriplegic. She recovered limited use of her left side and very limited use of her right side leading to the final diagnosis of incomplete quadriplegia. The 27 year-old Plaintiff was confined to a wheelchair, and has a neurogenic bowel and bladder. Plaintiff's medical bills were approximately $250,000 and the Plaintiff’s life care planner had calculated a total life care plan of $1.9 million dollars. The accident occurred three years prior to the trial. The Judge granted Plaintiff's partial motion for summary judgment on the issue of assumption of the risk thereby depriving Defendant of its only potential defense. The Plaintiff asked for compensatory damages in excess of $4 million, plus punitive damages based upon the Defendant's egregious conduct. The jury returned a verdict of $2.2 million and no punitive damages. (The case was tried because the Plaintiff contended that Defendant's insurer did not timely offer its $250,000 policy limits applicable to the accident. Plaintiff wanted to obtain a verdict as far in excess of the policy as possible for bad faith purposes).