Largest Verdict In The County’s History
On Oct. 14, 2005, a Lawrence County jury returned a verdict of $1.5 million on behalf of a Lawrence County man who was injured as a result of a hazardous condition on a PennDOT highway. According to the Lawrence County Prothonotary, the jury award is the highest in the history of the county.
On Sept. 16, 2000, the plaintiff was operating his vehicle in a westerly direction on SR 2028 when he saw a dog in his lane of traffic. After steering his vehicle to avoid the dog, the passenger side tires dropped off the paved portion of the roadway onto the berm. When he attempted to steer his vehicle left back onto the paved surface, it was unresponsive. As a result, the vehicle struck an embankment and rolled over several times.
The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., hired an expert witness who was an employee of PennDOT for 32 years. The expert testified that the PennDOT Maintenance Manual stated that any berm drop-off in excess of 2 inches is a hazardous condition. The expert testified that upon inspection of the roadway in question, the berm drop-off ranged anywhere from 2 to 7 inches and that such a berm drop-off substantially affected the plaintiff’s ability to steer his vehicle safely back onto the roadway.
The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., hired a vocational expert who offered testimony regarding the plaintiff’s loss of past and future wages and loss of earning capacity.
The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., offered the testimony of a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The physician offered testimony regarding the plaintiff’s limitations as a result of this accident.
The jury deliberated for approximately two hours, 15 minutes before returning a verdict in the amount of $1.5 million.
Defective Design And Signing Of Intersection
The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his wife. Unfortunately, as she came around a bend on a rural road for the first time, the wife did not see a posted stop sign. As a result, she did not stop at the stop sign and struck a vehicle that was crossing the intersection.
Suit was filed by the law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., against the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation alleging defective design and signing of the intersection. The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., alleged that the driver of the vehicle was not given proper notice of the fact that a stop sign was situated ahead on the roadway. Furthermore, Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., alleged that not only was there insufficient signing, but PennDOT actually used the wrong signs in notifying drivers of the upcoming intersection. Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., alleged that had proper signing been used at the intersection, the accident would not have occurred.
Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., hired a road design expert as well as an accident reconstruction expert to set forth proper design of the intersection and to outline how the proper design would have avoided the accident. After extensive discovery, which included depositions and field inspections, the matter settled in favor of the plaintiff.
Defective Placement Of A Telephone Pole
The plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a teenage friend. As the vehicle was proceeding down the highway, the driver of the vehicle reached over to change the radio station. As a result, the passenger side wheels of the vehicle drove onto the berm of the roadway. When the driver looked up, a telephone pole, which was situated approximately 6 feet from the berm of roadway, was directly in her path. In an effort to avoid the telephone pole, she steered sharply to the left, which resulted in a rollover of the vehicle, causing significant injuries to the passenger.
The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., filed suit against the utility company and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation alleging that the pole was inappropriately placed along the berm of the road. The law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., hired an expert who opined that PennDOT had sufficient right of way so that the pole could have been placed farther away from the edge of the roadway thereby creating less of a hazard to passengers using the road surface. After discovery was completed which included deposition testimony of PennDOT experts the case settled against the driver of the vehicle and PennDOT and in favor of the plaintiff.
Improper Placement Of An Island
The plaintiff was operating his motorcycle along a four-lane highway. As he approached an intersection in the right-hand lane of travel, he intended to go straight through the intersection. However, located in the right-hand lane of travel was an island placed by PennDOT for the purposes of forcing all traffic in the right-hand lane to turn right. The plaintiff’s motorcycle struck the island, which resulted in injuries to the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that the placement of the island in the right-hand lane created a dangerous condition to motorists using the roadway. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged that PennDOT failed to give adequate notice of the placement of the island; failed to adequately mark and identify the island to warn drivers of its presence. Suit was filed by the law firm of Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George, P.C., against the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation. After two days of trial, the case settled in favor of the plaintiff.