$55 MILLION VERDICT: In December of 2018, our client was standing on the side of the road in front of a guardrail when a tractor-trailer, traveling too fast for the rainy conditions, jack-knifed and pinned her to the guardrail. The devastating accident severed both of her legs—one at the hip and the other above the knee—permanently disabling her.

When the insurance company denied her claim and the federally registered commercial motor carrier refused to accept responsibility, she sought counsel. Our co-counsel, Emeka Igwe, called in attorney Kevin O’Brien of Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway as trial counsel. O’Brien and his team, including attorneys Kristin Buddle and Tyler Stampone, dedicated themselves to building a compelling case.

At trial, aided by Buddle and Stampone, O’Brien presented a detailed account of the costs associated with the client’s injuries to the jury. These included multiple surgeries, prosthetic legs that need replacement every three years, and the fact that she would never be able to work again. The pain and suffering, combined with the extensive medical treatments required for the rest of her life, highlighted the true impact of the accident on her life.

The defense’s strategy was to deny responsibility and attempt to shift the blame to the victim. The truck driver, who operated under special federal rules as a commercial motor carrier, had already admitted that he did not follow these regulations. Despite this admission, the defendants continued to deny responsibility, suggesting that the injured woman was at fault for her own injuries. This strategy did not resonate with the jury, who saw it as a blatant attempt to avoid responsibility.

For Kevin O’Brien and his team, the defendants’ refusal to accept responsibility was particularly troubling. “Their defense was to blame the injured person,” O’Brien recalls. “It bothered me, and I think it bothered the jury as well.”

After a year and a half of dedicated work from O’Brien and his co-counsel, and years of groundwork laid by their co-counsel, the jury delivered a landmark $55 million verdict. This decision brought a sense of vindication to our client and the Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Holloway team. “It showed that they listened to our presentation, they saw her pain and suffering, and most importantly, it resonated with them,” O’Brien notes.

The $55 million verdict is the largest in Essex County history, underscoring the severity of the injuries and the egregiousness of the defendants’ victim-blaming tactics. The jury’s decision not only provided financial compensation to cover the extensive medical costs and lifelong care needed but also sent a clear message to the defendants.

“This landmark verdict is a testament to the resilience of our client,” O’Brien adds. “She was not going to be bullied into accepting anything other than everything she deserved.”

He continues, “This case also showcases the collaborative effort of our team, from the collaboration by Emeka Igwe to the intensive trial preparation by Kristin Buddle and Tyler Stampone, and finally, to my work and the trial itself. Our combined efforts brought justice to a severely injured young woman and held the responsible parties accountable.”

Have you or a loved one been in a motor vehicle accident? We’re ready to stand for you. Contact our team today.