A jury found UPS Inc. must pay a Missouri family $75 million, after a company driver with a known history of drug abuse collided with a pregnant woman’s car, causing her baby to be born with permanent brain damage.
In May 2018, Steven Ray Miller was driving a UPS truck and ran a red light, hitting a car driven by Jodi Pannell, who was 13 weeks pregnant, according to trial testimony.
Pannell sought emergency medical treatment and began physical therapy. Her son was born in October 2018 with hypotonia, which is low muscle tone, and was later found to have a permanent brain condition called schizencephaly, The Kansas City Star reported.
A Clay County jury on Monday found that UPS should pay the family $65 million in damages and $10.3 million in interest.
Miller, 63, testified that he was speeding before the collision. He also said the company was aware that he had been charged with possession of crack cocaine before he was hired in 2010.
Miller also testified the company knew he had gone into a drug rehabilitation program after using crack cocaine in February 2018. He completed the program and returned to his job as a driver on May 3, five days before the crash.
Miller said he didn’t drive while under the influence of drugs but acknowledged that he would have symptoms similar to a hangover after using crack cocaine.
The company did not test him for drugs after the crash, according to trial testimony.
UPS has not determined whether it will appeal the verdict, according to a company spokesman.
“We have apologized to the family and taken full responsibility for this unfortunate incident,” spokesman Matthew O’Connor wrote. “We want the family to be able to provide the ongoing therapy and support for their son, but medical professionals have said that the cause of the child’s Schizencephaly is unknown.”
Babies with the condition have developmental delays in speech and language skills. Injuries to the brain during pregnancy can cause its onset, but so can genetics, infections and other factors.