Crump wins historic $411 million verdict in Zoom trial
Special to the Outlook
QUINCY — A Quincy jury returned a record $411,726,608 million verdict last Friday night in favor of a local veteran who was paralyzed in a 45-vehicle interstate pileup. He was represented by nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Robert Cox.
The pile up occurred in 2018 and the case was the first virtual jury trial held in Florida’s Second Circuit Court in Northern Florida.
Crump and Cox represented Duane Washington, a former career Army sergeant and resident of Gadsden County, who was traveling home on his motorcycle via I-10 near Tallahassee on July 24, 2018, when he encountered a 45-plus vehicle pileup. The massive crash was caused by weather conditions coupled with speeding by a Top Auto commercial vehicle driver.
Washington attempted to drive his motorcycle onto a median to avoid the pileup and the risk of other vehicles crashing into him – but before he could do so, Washington collided with a stopped truck that had no lights on in the emergency lane. The collision launched Washington into the median and left him with severe, life-threatening injuries.
“This proud veteran sacrificed so much to serve our country, and was a competent, safe driver who never even had a ticket while riding his motorcycle,” Crump said. “The consequential negligence displayed by the Top Auto driver wrecked not only vehicles but lives. This is a significant, historic ruling for justice. COVID demanded an unprecedented Zoom trial, but it didn’t stop the jury from hearing and understanding the evidence and returning a record verdict.”
Washington sustained life-altering trauma, including breaking both sides of his pelvis away from his spine, severe colon and urethra damage, permanent incontinence, and loss of sexual function. Washington had a colostomy bag installed during his more than six-month hospital stay and is in constant pain. Despite intensive physical therapy, Washington can walk only with a specialized arm crutch, and his right leg is withering.
Top Auto of Miami rejected the legal team’s $1 million settlement offer. Washington’s medical expenses alone amounted to nearly $750,000.
“Mr. Washington may never feel physically comfortable again,” Cox said, “but this verdict ensures that he will be well taken care of and his family will be financially secure.”