In October 2011 Attorney Christine Kennedy-Jensen represented a young woman from Massachusetts who fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the center line into the path of a tractor trailer while driving home from an afternoon of skiing at Sunday River. The accident resulted in the death of a driver of a third vehicle when the tractor trailer flipped over on top of his pick-up truck.
The jury heard eight days of witness testimony and legal argument. Counsel for the family of the deceased pick-up truck driver presented testimony from several members of the Maine State Police accident reconstruction team, the state medical examiner, and its own retained experts to establish that the tractor-trailer’s defective brakes and driving decisions made by the truck driver contributed in at least some small way to the fatality. In her opening statement, Ms. Kennedy-Jensen acknowledged her client’s role in the accident and conceded liability. However, she maintained that the tractor-trailer company and its driver played a substantial role in the accident and the resulting fatality.
The attorney for the tractor-trailer company strenuously disputed that either the company or its driver bore any responsibility for the accident or the death of the pick-up truck driver. The company presented testimony from its driver and a company representative as well as an out-of-state expert witness who testified that the accident and the fatality would have happened as it did even if the brakes on the tractor-trailer were in optimum condition.
The attorney for the five adult children of the deceased drivers asked the jury for over 1.5 million dollars to compensate them for the loss of their father.
After several hours of deliberation, the jury awarded the family just $310,000. The jury allocated fault for the accident as follows: 90% to the tractor-trailer company and 10% to Ms. Kennedy-Jensen’s client. This verdict resulted in the insurer for Ms. Kennedy-Jensen’s client paying substantially less than its pre-suit policy limit offer.