A 51-year-old Carthage man injured as a van passenger in a June 2012 collision has settled a claim against a driver who may have been using her cellphone as well as a semi-truck operator and his employer for a total of $310,000.
Dennis Williams and his 71-year-old father were waiting at a stoplight on Missouri Highway 171 at its intersection with U.S. 71 Business Highway in Webb City when their 2003 Ford Econoline E-150 was struck head-on by a 1999 Jeep Wrangler driven by Brandi N. Phillips, 27, of Joplin.
James Williams told a Webb City police officer that Phillips, who was traveling in the opposite direction on the state highway, had “her head down as if she was doing something,” according to the accident report, and that he saw her cell phone on the Jeep’s passenger seat after the collision. Plaintiff’s attorney Zane T. Cagle said Phillips was believed to be using her cell phone just before the crash.
Phillips told police that she struck the van only after swerving to avoid a Swift Leasing tractor-trailer driven by Bruce Sievers of Silver City, New Mexico. Sievers in turn told police that he had properly signaled a lane change and was at least two tractor-trailer lengths past the intersection when he saw the crash in his rear-view mirror.
Five months after the accident, Dennis Williams sued the two drivers as well as Swift Transportation, the Arizona-based truck company’s corporate parent, in Jasper County Circuit Court. Cagle said his client’s injuries included three herniated discs that required surgery.
Settlements were reached with Swift and Sievers as well Phillips after mediation in May. The agreements consisted of $235,000 from Swift Transportation and Sievers and $75,000 from Phillips, an amount that consisted of $25,000 from the limits of an Omni Insurance policy and $50,000 from an American Family policy, also its limit, records provided by Cagle show.
Several defense attorneys for the two drivers as well as the truck company declined comment. A cross-claim by Phillips against Sievers and Swift Transportation remains pending. MO
Motor vehicle collision
Breakdown: $235,000 from Swift Transportation and Sievers; $75,000 from Phillips ($25,000 Omni policy limit and $50,000, American Family policy limit)
Venue: Jasper County Circuit Court
Case Number/Date: 12AP-CC00084/May 7, 2015
Judge: David Boyce Mouton
Mediator: Jim Newberry, Springfield
Insurance: Omni Insurance Co. (for Phillips); American Family Insurance (for Phillips)
Injuries alleged: cervical disc injuries at C-5, C-6 and C-7
Special damages: $128,000 in paid medical bills; $118,750 in unpaid medical bills
First Pretrial Demand: $1 million
First Pretrial Offer: $50,000 (from American Family on behalf of Phillips)
Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Brian J. Ipsen, Orthopedic Specialists of the Four States, Galena, Kansas (medical/surgical specialties)
Caption: Dennis Williams v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona d/b/a Swift Leasing LLC, Bruce M. Sievers and Brandy N. Phillips
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Andrew Gregory Mundwiller and Zane Thomas Cagle, Cagle Law Firm, St. Louis
Defendants’ Attorneys: James Jarrow and John A. Watt, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, St. Louis (for Swift Transportation and Sievers); David Adair, Haden, Cowherd & Bullock, Springfield; Robert Wulff; Evans & Dixon, Springfield (for Phillips); Erin D. Vorhees; Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci, Rogers, Arkansas (for Phillips as cross-respondent)