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Jury finds woman mostly at fault for highway crash

A Phelps County jury determined that a 73-year-old Rolla woman injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 44 was 75 percent responsible, awarding her less than $11,000 after a six-figure demand on the morning of trial. 

Joyce Ann Horrell sued Tyson Foods and driver Eric Scott Liverar of Pettis County in 2019, nearly four years after the Aug. 17, 2015 accident. Horrell’s 1994 Crown Victoria was hit from behind by the Tyson truck. Horrell was transported to a Columbia hospital by air ambulance. 

Defense attorney Steven Hughes said the collision occurred shortly after 11 a.m. as Horrell slowed in the westbound interstate’s left lane while trying to merge into the right lane near the Exit 184 off-ramp, as a Missouri Department of Transportation crew along the shoulder worked to clear debris from an earlier accident.  

“Westbound traffic was slowing down and moving from the right lane to the left, passing lane,” added plaintiff’s attorney Mark Turley, acknowledging that his client “slowed or stopped her car in the passing lane to exit the highway at (the) off ramp, but was unable to due to traffic in the right lane.”

Horrell now has permanent scarring to her leg, Turley said, along with a preexisting condition that causes swelling in both legs. She submitted past medical expenses (paid and owed) of roughly $27,000 and was not employed at the time of the crash (with no claim for lost earnings) having been awarded Social Security disability benefits in 2003.

The jury assessed $40,000 in damages for Horrell’s personal injuries and $3,000 for property damage, with Horrell receiving 25 percent of each amount.

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$43,000 verdict

Motor vehicle collision

Allocation of fault: 75 percent plaintiff, 25 percent defendant. Net judgment of $10,750.

Breakdown: $10,000 in medical, $750 for property damage

Venue: Phelps County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 19PH-CV00390/Sept. 2, 2021

Judge: John Beger

Special Damages: $72,000 in charged medical bills, $27,000 in paid and owed medical bills

Plaintiff’s Expert: Dr. Paul Olive, Springfield (orthopedic medicine)

First pretrial demand: $150,000

First pretrial offer: $50,000

Last pretrial demand: $100,000

Last pretrial offer: $75,000

Caption: Joyce Ann Horrell v. Tyson Foods Inc. and Eric Scott Liverar

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Mark Turley, Smith & Turley, Rolla

Defendants’ Attorneys: Steven Hughes and Joseph Hoffman, Hughes Lawyers LLC, St. Louis

 

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