Kathleen Crockford, the former pastor of the Westerly-Pawcatuck Congregational Church, suffered a traumatic brain injury when her car was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer in 2008. She filed suit and was awarded $2.5 million in damages recently, following an eight-day trial in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn. The jury in her case found the truck driver was negligent, but not reckless, and awarded $1,273,500 in economic damages and $1,250,000 in non-economic damages to Rev. Crockford.
Rev. Crockford was returning to her home in Stonington after performing a wedding in Massachusetts on May 29, 2008. She was waiting to make a left turn when the tractor-trailer struck her car in the rear, slamming it into the car in front of her. Rev. Crockford suffered a brain injury in the crash. She continues to have symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, memory loss, slow mental processing, irritability and depression.
The truck driver, Larry Spencer, who was delivering a load of steel for Metals USA, claimed his brakes failed and that he attempted to use his emergency brake. The investigating officer determined the truck’s brakes were working and the emergency brake had not been deployed. Rev. Crockford, 59, has been unable to return to her work at the church and as a part-time book editor. The economic damages cover her past and future medical bills and her lost income of about $65,000 a year. The noneconomic damages are for pain and permanent injury, disability and loss of enjoyment of life and activities.
Rev. Crockford said she intended to remain at the church for years to come so that she could marry the children she had baptized after arriving there in 2004. The lawyers for the driver and his employer admitted liability before the trial began. The Defendants’ own medical expert admitted that Rev. Crockford suffered a permanent injury. But the Defendants prevailed on the recklessness claim, which would have added punitive damages to the verdict. The Defendants offered $1 million to settle before the trial began and went to $1.4 million during the trial. Those offers were refused. Scott D. Carnassar represented the Plaintiff in this case and he did a very good job. Rev. Crockford says the jury did the right thing and that she is satisfied with the amount of its verdict.
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