A Successful Trucking Case Against FedEx Ground: “The owner of the tractor is not who you think it is!”

Truck accident litigation allows us trial lawyers to combine the full panoply of our knowledge, skill sets, experience and trial techniques to achieve a great result for our clients. In these sophisticated cases, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our mastery of state and federal law as it applies to trucking cases. Most of these cases involve significant damages claims because of the forces involved – an 80,000 pound rig hurdling down the interstate colliding with a four ton car or seven hundred pound motorcycle. That is why it is so gratifying to handle big rig trucking cases.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with APITLA Chairman Dan Ramsdell and Ft. Lauderdale lawyer Matthew Bavaro in a case against Federal Express. After almost two years of litigation we were able to conclude the case favorably for the client. I wanted to share with you the twists and turns of the long journey from when we were hired in the case to the conclusion, which in this matter was a settlement in a confidential amount.

Before I became involved in this case, I was used to passing the many gleaming Federal Express and Federal Express Ground (EC add) rigs on the highway. You have probably noticed that all these rigs include a gleaming white tractor marked with the Federal Express logo. I always assumed that these rigs, including the tractor and trailer or tandem trailers, were owned by Federal Express or one of its entities. I was surprised to find out that this is not the case. Recently, I have become involved in a UPS case and discovered that some of the UPS tractors are also not owned by UPS. This was a big surprise to me and maybe to some of you. Unraveling this ownership shell game is of critical importance in winning these cases.

One might ask, “Why does Federal Express elect to hire small ‘mom and pop’ companies or corporations to haul their trailers?” It turns out the answer is pretty simple. By doing so, Federal Express avoids the expense of FICA, FUTA, Workers Compensation insurance, health insurance, retirement plans, pension plans, tractor maintenance, EEOC compliance, the expense of hiring, training and retaining truck drivers, etc. When these factors are applied to the tremendous number of rigs that Federal Express keeps operating on the nation’s highways, it is easy to see how Federal Express and UPS save hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs. These savings make the companies much more profitable for their shareholders at the expense of the safety of the motoring public.

Federal Express demonstrates that old adage of plaintiffs’ lawyers handling cases against large corporations. The company cares more about profits than people, revenue more than safety, dollars more than life. “Profits over people!”

FedEx Corporation is a Delaware corporation incorporated October 2, 1997. FDX Corporation was founded January 1998 with the acquisition of Caliber Systems, Inc. by Federal Express. Later FedEx acquired RPS, Roberts Express, Viking Freight, Caribbean Transportation Services, Caliber Logistics and Caliber Technology, Tower Group International, World Tariff and Kinkos, Inc. Later it acquired Parcel Direct. Federal Express operates FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Custom Critical.

FedEx Corporation is the twenty-first largest campaign contributor in the United States. It has donated over twenty-one million dollars since 1990. It has strong ties to the White House and members of Congress. During the first three months of 2010, FedEx spent nearly $4.9 million lobbying the Federal government. UPS, FedEx’s main competitor, spent $1.6 million over the same period. No wonder hours of service rules have increased driving hours!

FedEx owns 92,300 ground vehicles divided between vans and trucks, as well as Airbus A300-6 (71), Airbus A310-200-3 (35), Boeing 727-2 (41), Boeing 757-200SF (73), Boeing 777F (19), McDonald Douglas MD-10-10 (52), McDonaldDouglas MD-10-30 (17), McDonald Douglas MD-11 (64), ATR42-300/320 (26), ATR 72-200 (21), Cessna Caravan (244) total 663 airplanes. Trucks log more than two million miles driven every single day. UPS, on the other hand, owns 152,500 vehicles. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of FedEx trucks on the road in the US, like other courier services, FedEx trucks are involved in many motor vehicle accidents every year. Often in a hurry and struggling to meet time and distance requirements, tractor trailer drivers may take additional risks and may experience high fatigue levels due to the stress of the job.

FedEx has 290,000 employees worldwide. These employees provide service coverage for more than 220 countries and territories globally. Most of these are full time employees, although the company considers a small percentage of its independent truck driver “contractors.” It treats 12,000 package deliverers in its FedEx Ground division as contractors. At one point the IRS levied a $319 million tax assessment against FedEx based on the allegation that the company misclassified drivers as contractors, but the case was dropped against their powerful, politically connected corporation.

Studies show contractors cost up to thirty percent less than payroll employees, mainly because they have to pay for their own benefits and employment taxes. They also aren’t covered by most work place laws, such as those related to discrimination and medical leave. Companies that don’t rely heavily on contractors criticize the practice. United Parcel Service, where drivers are largely (but not all) unionized employees, complain that FedEx’ policy is unfair to taxpayers, competitors and the workers themselves. FedEx describes its delivery contractors as driving entrepreneurs. The company points to Ray M. Skiptunis with nine routes in New Jersey as an example. Skiptunis, who employs fifteen people, said he feels every bit the independent business man. “I am at risk financially. I have $300,000 to $400,000 worth of equipment and if something bad happens I take a hit.” Critics claim most FedEx Ground drivers are fully controlled by the company. FedEx effectively has say over everything from uniforms to how many packages are delivered On discovery we found this retention of control by FedEx to be true for the most part.

So how did FedEx Ground’s business practice of using independent contractors play out in our case? Fortunately, we were hired within six months of the accident. Spoliation letters were sent out and FedEx preserved the tractor, one of the two trailers and the DDEC module, for inspection. DDEC is an acronym for Detroit Diesel Electronic Control and is utilized in Volvo and Freightliner trucks. The defense hired an expert witness to perform a download on the DDEC on the tractor in question. The download was preserved and we were able to depose the expert. We also hired a trucking rules and regulations expert and an accident reconstructionist.

The case that we filed against FedEx was for general and punitive damages and for wrongful death on behalf of a father, a stepmother and a sister, all of whom were injured in the tractor trailer wreck on Interstate 75 south of Atlanta in Warner Robins, Georgia. The case was also for a wrongful death case arising from the death, after three days of suffering, of a twenty-one year old divinity student. The family members were Haitians. The Plaintiffs were driving a Nissan rental car north on Interstate 75 in Houston County, Georgia, at 4:35 a.m., on their way to a Seventh Day Adventist Convention in Atlanta. The father was a Seventh Day Adventist preacher and the son was a Seventh Day divinity student. Suddenly, and without warning, the family vehicle was rear ended by a FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. tractor and tandem trailers, forcing the Nissan off the road, flipping it, and ejecting the three backseat passengers onto the shoulder of the road. One of the passengers sustained a severe brain injury, as well as other internal injuries and fractures. He lived for three days in the ICU and then died. Although the FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. tractor was a shiny late-model white tractor marked with FedEx Ground logos, it turned out that the tractor was owned by a small “mom-and-pop” Georgia corporation, Sean Callahan Enterprises, Inc., which owned five tractors leased to FedExGround Package System, Inc.

Callahan Enterprises had bid on and won a contract to carry freight for FedEx Ground from Atlanta to Jacksonville and back to Atlanta five days a week. The trip consists of 666 miles round trip. The route originated at the FedEx Ground Package System terminal at Ellenwood, Georgia and stopped at the FedEx terminal in Jacksonville, Florida. The driver would then unload and turn around and drive the empty trailers back to Atlanta. The route traversed many 55 mph zones on the interstate in municipalities such as Macon, Valdosta, Tifton and Cordele. The driver of the FedEx vehicle, who was an employee of Callahan Enterprises, drove 72 mph on cruise control for most of the trip according to DDEC records.

The collision occurred when the FedEx rig rear ended the Nissan on a downslope of a long hill on the interstate with clear unobstructed visibility for 1100 feet. The FedEx driver took no evasive action and the DDEC download showed that the tractor did not evidence any braking maneuvers prior to impact. Discovery demonstrated that the driver had violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations including 49 CFR § 392.3, as it pertains to an ill or fatigued operator, and 49 CFR § 395 pertaining to hours of service rules. The driver failed to record his current duty status as a commercial vehicle driver as required by FMCSR 49 CFR § 395.8. He failed to maintain accurate log books. The DDEC download showed that the driver was slightly speeding and that no braking had occurred until impact.

FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., pursuant to its lease contract with Callahan Enterprises, had exclusive possession, control and use of the tractor trailer. Pursuant to said lease, the carrier FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. “shall assume complete responsibility for the operation of equipment and for the duration of the lease,” pursuant to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rule § 376.1, § 376.2, § 376.11 and § 376.12. FedEx Ground Package System required placement of signs and placards on the Callahan Enterprises tractor, so that it appeared to be a FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. vehicle. We pled, pursuant to 49 CFR § 1507.4(a)(4) and FMCSR § 376.1, § 376.2, § 376.11 and § 376.12(c)(1), that FedEx Ground had entered into a lease agreement with Callahan Enterprises providing for the exclusive possession, control and use of the equipment and complete assumption of responsibility in respect to the use thereof. Pursuant to the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.’s vicarious liability was statutorily imposed by the lease. These statutes are much stronger in supporting the assertion of vicarious liability than the state law respondeat superior rules.

An employer/employee relationship between FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., Callahan Enterprises, Inc. and the driver is mandated by 49 CFR § 1057.12(c)(1) and MVCSR § 376.1 § 376.2, § 376.11 and § 376.12(c)(1) which places exclusive possession, control and use of the operation of the lease equipment under the lessor. The lease creates an irrebutable presumption of an employment relationship sufficient to establish the carrier’s, Fedex Ground Package System, Inc., liability for injuries. FedEx Ground was the statutory employer of the driver at the time of the wreck 49 US Code § 111.07, 49 CFR § 1057, FMCSR § 376.12(c)(1). FMCSA rules and regulations require a carrier lessee to execute a written lease to clarify identity of the vehicle and the employee of the carrier, including displaying the carrier’s placard 49 CFR § 1057.11(a-d), FMCSR § 376.1, § 376.2, § 376.11 and § 376.12.

Because the route of the FedEx rig from Atlanta to Jacksonville and back traversed 666 miles, it would be virtually impossible for the driver to make the drive and then back without violating the eleven hours of service rule and without speeding in violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rule § 395.3(1). In fact the DDEC download records show that the tractor involved in the wreck was speeding a substantial percentage of the time when it was being operated by Callahan Enterprises, not only on the day and night of the wreck but also over the previous year. Because FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. guaranteed overnight delivery, an undue pressure was placed on Callahan Enterprises and its drivers. Deposition of the “linehaul manager” showed that if a driver had to pull over and sleep, another tractor would come from FedEx Ground to pick up the trailers and deliver them on time. Drivers who were late more than a time or two would be fired and contractors who were late more than a time or two on a route would be terminated. We hired our trucking expert to drive the route of the trip and prove the virtual impossibility of driving the arranged route at a legal speed. This consciously reckless scheduling was one of the bases for our punitive damages claim.

Under FMCSR § 392.1, FedEx was required to insure that its employees were knowledgeable of the FMCSR rules and abide by all Federal Motor Carrier regulations. The regulations state that every motor carrier is responsible for the management, maintenance, operation and driving of commercial motor vehicles and the hiring, supervising, training, assigning and dispatching of drivers. FMCSR § 390.11 mandates that whenever a duty or prohibition is imposed upon a commercial motor vehicle driver, it shall be the duty of the motor vehicle carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition by drivers. Neither FedEx nor Callahan Enterprises trained the driver involved in this wreck in the dangers of fatigued driving. As a general principal, the driver knew he was not supposed to drive while fatigued and in a deposition admitted that to drive fatigued demonstrated conscious indifference to safety. However, he did not have the concept vigorously reinforced periodically and was not taught that fatigued drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers. FedEx negligently failed to establish and implement the required safety management, controls and systems to insure that the driver was properly trained and supervised, including those policies necessary for effectively managing the prohibition of ill or fatigued drivers operating on the roadways as required by FMCSR § 385, § 390 and § 392.3. Both FedEx and Callahan Enterprises failed to maintain a training system and system for monitoring and following up on training to insure that its drivers were adequately trained and received recurrent training in the dangers of driving while fatigued. This was another basis for our punitive damages claim.

In his deposition the driver stated that he did not remember seeing the Nissan before impact. This was despite the fact that the collision occurred on a straight interstate highway 1,100 feet downslope from the crest of the hill. The driver obviously was so impaired by fatigue that it was unsafe for him to continue to operate the vehicle. Simply put, he fell asleep. People do not instantly fall asleep. The body gives all of us some warning that we are getting sleepy: we nod off, we close one eye and drive with one eye open, we tell ourselves we’ll briefly close both eyes, and the like. The driver will go through a period of microsleep which may well lead to complete sleep. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides guidance for motor carriers under FMCSR § 392.6. Said guidance states: “1. How many miles may a driver record on his log book/daily record duty and still be presumed to be in compliance with the speed limit? Guidance: Drivers are required to conform to the posted speed limits prescribed by jurisdictions in and through which the vehicle is being operated. Where the total trip is on highways with a speed limit of 65 mph, trips of 550 to 600 miles completed in ten hours are considered questionable….trips of 600 miles or more will be assumed to be incapable of being completed without violation of the speed limits and may be required to be documented in areas where 55 mph speed limit is in effect. Trip runs of 500 miles or more considered incapable of being made in compliance with the speed limit and hours of service limitation.” FMCSR § 392.6(a) provides that no motor carrier shall schedule a run nor permit or require the operation of any commercial motor vehicle between points in such a period of time as would necessitate the commercial vehicle being operated at speeds greater than prescribed by the jurisdiction in or through which the commercial motor vehicle is being operated.

It is no wonder that the driver had not completed his log book for the trip in question. He waited until the conclusion of each trip to complete the log book in a way that would not document hours of duty violations. Had the case gone to trial, we would have argued that this was his habit and practice so that he could complete the log book after a trip was over to make it appear that he had completed a trip within the allotted eleven hours. In his deposition, the driver stated that FedEx Ground had provided him with some training wherein he attended a few safety meetings but that Callahan Enterprises had not. He pled guilty to failure to maintain the log book.

The driver was fired by Callahan Enterprises because the employee was involved in an “at fault” accident for following too close that resulted in a fatal injury. Per company operating agreement, this is grounds for a termination. This document we felt provided a compelling piece of evidence regarding negligence per se. Depositions of the troopers demonstrated that the driver had told them he did not see the vehicle which he struck until impact. In his deposition, the driver stated that four seconds before the crash he applied his brakes. He also stated that his vehicle was traveling 60 mph at impact. His testimony was belied by a DDEC download which showed that he did not apply the brakes until impact, that he then applied 100% throttle with the clutch in and the brake off, and that he then applied the brakes again after two seconds. He confirmed that he was taught through the Smith System in learning to drive, that tractor trailer drivers are supposed to “aim high in steering,” have a “space cushion,” keep his eyes moving and “leave himself an out.” He admitted that he was taught to keep a “fifteen second eye lead” when he was traveling 55 mph.

The distance to travel at 70 mph from the top of the crest of the hill was eleven seconds. If he has kept the proper “eye lead” the wreck would not have happened. He also said that when he topped the hill he saw the car but the impact was over 1,100 feet later. He also testified in his deposition that he didn’t see the car before impact. He admitted that his ability and alertness were impaired because he was tired through fatigue and yet he continued to drive. In contradiction of his other testimony, he also said that he saw the Nissan six seconds prior to impact. His testimony was “all over the map” on the issue of when he saw the Nissan. The owner of Callahan Enterprises, the “mom and pop” operation that owned five tractors leased to FedEx, testified in his deposition that he had not read the FMCSR safety rules in ten years and did not provide any training to his drivers! He admitted that he did not have in place any policies or procedures to monitor drivers’ compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. He asked his drivers to attend offered but not mandatory safety meetings at FedEx Ground conducted by the linehaul manager but he did not require or monitor whether or not they had done so.

We cross-examined the driver concerning the commercial drivers license manual for the State of Georgia § 2.4.1 which states how far ahead to look. Most good drivers look at least 12-15 seconds ahead. That means looking ahead the distance you will travel in 12-15 seconds. At highway speeds, it’s about a quarter of a mile. The drivers manual states that at 55 mph it will take about six seconds to stop and the tractor trailer rig will travel about 450 feet. The DDEC download showed that the driver had over six seconds to stop and the examination of the scene showed that he had eleven seconds of visibility. The Georgia commercial drivers license manual also states that, “fatigue, being tired and lack of alertness are bigger problems at night. A body’s need for sleep is beyond a person’s control. Most people are less alert at night, especially after midnight. This is particularly true if you had been driving for a long time. Drivers may not see hazards as soon or react as quickly so the chance of a crash is greater. If you are sleepy, the only safe cure is to get off the road and get some sleep. If you don’t you risk your life and the lives of others. If you look sleepy or you just feel sleepy, stop driving! You’re in a very dangerous condition. The only safe course is sleep.”

The Georgia state trooper incident report in part stated, “The driver of vehicle number one stated he did not see vehicle number two prior to the impact. The driver of vehicle number two stated she saw vehicle number one traveling fast behind her vehicle and then he began to turn slightly to the left as if he was going to pass her, but struck her vehicle. The driver’s testimony and the statements he gave to the troopers, his employer and others were wildly inconsistent. At one point he said that the tail lights on the Nissan were not working, however the lights were removed from the vehicle by our expert and showed signs of “hot shock.” The filaments were bent and blue tungsten was located on the wire. This was indicative of the lights being “on” at impact. Photographs of the vehicle post impact showed that the light switch was on.

Testimony of the driver of the Nissan was dramatic. She stated that when the crash occurred, she ended up upside down hanging from her seat belt in the dark. The windows were shattered in the Nissan. The three backseat passengers were missing from the vehicle. They found two who were moaning, but initially could not find her stepson. When she finally found him, he was groaning and blowing blood bubbles from a crushed chest. He was swallowing blood. She asked him to squeeze her hand and he did squeeze, demonstrating conscious pain and suffering. The family then had to witness the suffering of the young man in the hospital for three days. The father of the child had a substantial claim for witnessing the suffering of his child, since he was also injured. Various Georgia rules of the road including following too closely, traveling at an excessive speed and the means of overtaking and passing were violated. One of the state troopers charged the driver with failure to log the total miles driven on the far right side of the log book graph as he’s required to do on a daily basis and the record of duty status was not current in the log book. The driver pled guilty. We persuaded, on behalf of the family, the county solicitor to charge the driver with vehicular homicide.

Plaintiffs hired FMCSR expert Michael Napier, Napier Diversified Services, Inc., from Macon, Georgia. He had worked in logistics and transportation in his twenty years in the Marine Corps before starting his own company and provides consultation in virtually all areas of trucking operations and safety. He is quite knowledgeable of the regulatory and industry standards of care. Industry standards are composed of the content of the minimal requirements of the regulatory standards which are encompassed with the industry standards. He believes that J.J. Keller publishes a good set of training materials which encompass these standards. He offered the opinion, “A motor carrier should seek to come up with a schedule that doesn’t put a fatigued driver on the road and should educate and train the drivers to recognize when they are fatigued so they can pull off the road and rest.” Napier opined that the driver did not get ten consecutive hours off work in order to get the eight hours of sleep required. It took him approximately forty-five minutes to an hour to drive home and an hour to drive back to work. He returns to duty before the ten hours is over based upon the DDEC data that tells when the truck is started. Because he is driving the night shift he is going to be susceptible to being fatigued because of the extra time that it takes to go to and from work.

We hired Mr. Napier to drive the route from Ellenwood, Georgia to Jacksonville and back. Based upon the trip, Mr. Napier testified, “I will tell you that driving a trip 666 miles in eleven hours, the only way to have done that on this route is that you would have to routinely exceed the speed limit going through every municipality that goes down to 55 as you are going through.” Mr. Napier quoted section FMCSR § 392.6 concerning runs of 500 miles or more being considered incapable of being in compliance with speed limits. Napier opined that this truck was routinely driven above the speed limit in order to make the route within eleven hours. The DDEC showed that the truck had only been turned off for nine hours and fifteen minutes according to the DDEC so he was forty-five minutes short of being completely off duty for ten consecutive straight hours as required by the FMCSR. The driver was in violation of the hours of service rules because his truck wasn’t even shut off for ten hours as he came back on duty. Mr. Napier’s testimony is that the physical evidence matches the theory of microsleep because the driver remembers going over the crest of the hill, then the next thing he knew he was having a collision at 1,100 feet from the crest of the hill. Napier felt that FedEx Ground was negligent in that it failed to require and administer continuous and ongoing training to the driver. Moreover, Callahan Enterprises gave the driver no training. Napier opined that every responsible motor carrier should provide current, continuous training throughout the employment of the commercial motor carrier driver. Napier felt that FedEx Ground was negligent in not having a systematic required training regimen that covers the issues of defensive driving, speed, space management, hours of service, fatigue management.

Plaintiffs hired accident reconstructionist Sean Alexander, who opined that the Freightliner driver was driving under conditions of fatigue, consistent with a person suffering from microsleep or accidentally falling asleep. After review of the evidence he felt that there was no reason an alert driver would not have made some type of maneuver in avoiding striking the vehicle lawfully on the roadway, such as applying brakes or changing lanes.
Accident reconstructionist William Briscoe was hired by the defendants to download the DDEC, Detroit Diesel electronic control module data. According to Briscoe, the “hard brake report” showed that the driver apparently didn’t apply his brakes until a second before, during or after the impact. He confirmed that the driver’s foot slipped off the brake pedal and back on the accelerator for two seconds at the time of impact.

Brian Elder, the line haul manager of FedEx Ground in Ellenwood, was deposed and said that the route of 666 miles was close to the limit of the maximum distance a driver can cover within an eleven hour period safely and that the route was assigned by FedEx Ground and bid upon by Callahan Enterprises. He said that there are about thirty hubs in the United States similar to the Ellenwood, Georgia hub and that FedEx did not have a system in place to train the contractors’ drivers, nor did it have a system in place to make sure the drivers were trained by the contractors on an ongoing basis. Elder indicated that the safety meetings that FedEx Ground holds are voluntary and that drivers of contractors are not required to attend them. Elder stated that if Jones got too tired and pulled over, FedEx Ground would recover the load with another driver.

There is no requirement by FedEx Ground to make sure the contractors have their drivers receive recurring periodic training. FedEx Ground has not to date taken any responsibility for systematic and ongoing training of contractors’ drivers.

The damage to the young man who eventually died of his injuries was severe. His CAT scan demonstrated intracranial trauma with hemorrhage, as well as facial fractures. We deposed the treating neurosurgeon and asked him to confirm the various nursing documents showing that he had present cough, gag and other reflexes, he had corneal reflexes, responded to sternal rub and pressure on his supraorbital notches, and postured in response to pain. The defense argued that the young boy did not experience pain because his brain damage was so severe, but this assertion was belied by the daily nursing records which documented responses to painful stimuli. Conscious pain and suffering was an important part of our claim. The neurosurgeon stated that he felt the injuries sustained in the tractor trailer wreck caused the death.

We had custom anatomical diagrams created by the Doe Report, Medical Legal Art and Medivisuals, as well as having enlargements of the CT scans, x-rays and MRI’s made. We also had an animation of the brain damage created.

Because the young man was studying to become a minister in Haiti, we elected not to use an economist because lifetime earnings would be too low. The young man was an accomplished artist, musician and role model for many in his community. He was an A student. Fellow divinity students in Mexico described the young man as wonderful character, who acted much older than he really was and was a role model to other students. His life at the university in Mexico was about work, service, studying and preaching the Word and Bible study. The deceased young man played the guitar, the piano and the violin and spoke four languages. He contributed to the happiness of the entire student body.

FedEx requested a mediation after about four depositions and a rather low offer was made. The initial demand had been $20 million, which probably helped to set a high insurance company reserve for the claim. The mediation lasted all day and included many anatomical diagrams, enlargements of the accident scene, power points and the like. In hindsight, it is clear that FedEx requested the early mediation to buy the case cheaply or test the resolve of the plaintiffs.

After another thirteen depositions and eight more months of litigation, another mediation occurred and again the case did not settle. Within a month after the second mediation, with a specially set trial looming, the wrongful death case was settled for a confidential amount. This was a hard fought case for all of the lawyers concerned. FedEx was ably represented by an Atlanta law firm and a lawyer who specialized in trucking litigation. Without the contribution of the experienced Plaintiffs’ lawyers and their skilled experts on liability and damages, we feel that this case would not have been settled prior to trial. With a special setting for trial looming and trial preparation underway, the case did finally settle and we feel that the award was excellent.

It was an honor to have been associated in the case by APITLA Chairman, Dan Ramsdell. Together with the hard work and expertise of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida counsel, Matthew Bavaro, Dan and I were able to successfully conclude this matter. The pastor father of the deceased structured his settlement and created a foundation for orphaned children in Haiti.