Case Studies: Oakley

Oakley Case Report Auto Negligence

BRIEF STATEMENT OF CLAIM: Driver of Defendant's tractor trailer lost control while driving in the rain around a curve on a two-lane black-top road north of Chapel Hill on June 9, 1992. The tractor went off the road on the driver's side and the empty trailer jackknifed across both lanes of traffic. The Plaintiff tried to evade the on-rushing trailer by driving onto the shoulder of the road to his right, but the trailer extended across the roadway and struck his Blazer head-on.
PRINCIPAL INJURIES: Severe closed head injury; broken left tibia; lacerations.
SPECIAL DAMAGES: Medical Expenses - approximately $500,000.00; Lost Income (present value) - approximately $736,000.00.
CASE NAME AND NUMBER: SAMUEL M. OAKLEY, JR., by and through his Guardian BONNIE H. OAKLEY; and BONNIE H. OAKLEY, Individually, vs. J. T . DAVENPORT & SONS, INC., and GERALD WAYNE HARDY (Durham County File No. 94 CVS 0584)
DATE CONCLUDED: January, 1995
NAME OF JUDGE: Orlando F. Hudson
AMOUNT: $5,256,522.00 (present value) including wife's consortium claim ($600,000.00); with total expected lifetime pay-out of $9,363,990.00.
EXPERT WITNESSES AND AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Dr. Randy Evans (Neuropsycologist); Dr. Tom Gualtieri (Neuropsychiatrist); Fred Tyner (accident reconstruction); Dr. J. Finley Lee (economist); Dr. Estrada Bernard (neurosurgeon); Dr. Cynthia Wilhelm (rehabilitation psychologist).
ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT: George W. Miller, Jr. of Haywood, Denny & Miller, Durham
OTHER USEFUL INFO: At the time of the collision, Plaintiff was a 41 year old businessman who owned a real estate company, married with two children (13 year old daughter and 19 year old son). He remained in a coma for approximately two weeks after the accident and has been transferred to several different rehab institutions. His outward physical injuries healed well and he appears to be healthy and strong. However, the injury to his brain resulted in severe cognitive deficiencies, including memory loss and impaired reasoning. He also occasionally displays aggressive behavior requiring special attention. Testing at various medical facilities show that he presently has a full scale IQ of 70 evidencing a tremendous decline in his intellectual functioning. The prognosis is that he will never be able to return to his home environment and will continue to require institutionalization and professional care. Plaintiff's family environment was shattered by his transformation into a completely different person. His children have had to cope with a stranger who has entered their lives in the form of their father, but who does not know them. The same is true of his marriage relationship and for the immediate family there is no closure. Plaintiff is expected to live a normal lifespan, but will be unable to return to the family as husband and father. With respect to the liability issue, Defendant driver maintained during his deposition that he was not speeding and that the wet pavement was to blame for his loss of control. However, through discovery it was learned that the tractor was equipped with a computer which recorded operational information. A print-out of this information was later obtained which revealed that Defendant's vehicle was exceeding the speed limit immediately prior to and at the time of the collision.