By Wilborn P. Nobles III, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
A jury returned a $51.5 million judgment Tuesday (April 12) in a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who was severely injured by a tractor-trailer truck in New Orleans East. Connie Jones Marable received what is thought “to be the largest jury award ever made” to a single plaintiff in Judge Piper Griffin’s division ofOrleans Parish Civil District Court, said Erin Bruce Saucier, one of her attorneys.
Marable was injured in 2012 in a Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot on Read Boulevard after her husband’s 2007 Freightliner truck moved despite having its emergency brake on, according to the suit. Freightliner Trucks is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC.
The truck pinned her under its wheels and dragged her for some time, leaving her with “crushing physical injuries and a severe brain injury,” Saucier said. She has been in a “minimally conscious state under 24-7 nursing care” since then. Court filings indicate that her husband, Wayne, left the vehicle with the brake on. When it started moving forward anyway, she tried to help him stop it.
The suit was filed by her adult children, Bill and Engelique Jones against Daimler Trucks, her husband’s insurer and his employer, KLLM Transport Services LLC. In an email statement to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on Wednesday, spokesman David Giroux said: “Daimler Trucks North America is confident in the safety of its products.” He said the company “is disappointed with the jury’s conclusion and is evaluating its next steps in response to the verdict.”
Connie Marable was represented by Saucier and Caleb Didriksen of Didriksen, Saucier, Woods & Pichon in New Orleans. She was also represented by the Port Allen-based Tony Clayton of Clayton, Fruge & Ward.
The attorneys said the jury found Daimler Trucks to be 90 percent at fault in the accident. Saucier said it was most likely due to the truck’s lack of safety features, which he said includes a deficient parking brake system.
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