JURY: AEA, LOBBYIST, TRUCK FIRM MUST PAY $6.25 MILLION
THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS
September 18, 2001
Bay Minette (AP) - A Baldwin County jury has awarded $6.25 million to four people injured in a head-on collision on Interstate 65 in a verdict against the Alabama Education Association, one of its top lobbyists and a trucking firm.
The verdict Monday favored three members of an Alexander City family injured in one car and a Mobile woman who was a passenger in an AEA vehicle driven by lobbyist Stephen Martin.
The AEA vehicle crossed over the median in a thunderstorm on June 16, 2000, and hit a car driven by Don Meadows, 48, who suffered severe injuries. Also injured were his wife, Sandy, also 48, and son Chantz Meadows, 24.
Martin suffered a concussion and his passenger, Millie Dorman, also an AEA employee, suffered severe injuries that required a hip replacement and eight months in a hospital.
Jurors awarded Don Meadows $2 million for medical expenses; $1.5 million to his son; and $1 million for Mrs. Meadows. Dorman‚s suit was consolidated with the Meadows case for trial. She was awarded $1.75 million for medical expenses.
Dorman's attorney, Andrew T. Citrin of Daphne, said the jury awarded exactly what the attorneys had sought.
AEA attorney Edward Bowron said it's too soon to comment about a possible appeal. He said he's pleased the injured are recovering and had hoped the case could have been resolved without a trial.
Meadows‚ attorney, Greg Breedlove, said testimony showed that Martin was driving at least 70 mph in a heavy thunderstorm and attempted to pass a tractor-trailer.
The Hornady Truck Lines rig drifted across the center line and made contact with the AEA vehicle, which went across the median and hit the Meadow's car head-on.
Breedlove said testimony showed that AEA allowed Martin to drive despite a long history of driving offenses, including six speeding tickets in a three-year span and two license suspensions.