A jury has returned a verdict in the amount of $9 million for plaintiff Herschel Green, the husband of a woman killed at the end of her driveway in Lauderdale County. The case, which lasted 10 days, was tried by Marsh Rickard & Bryan attorneys Rip Andrews and Ty Brown.
Margaret Green died following an explosive collision between her SUV and a tractor trailer on July 15, 2015. Margaret was pulling out of her driveway onto Alabama Highway 64 – an act she had previously performed safely tens of thousands of times during the decades she had lived at the house – when her SUV was struck on the driver’s side by a tractor trailer. Margaret never saw the truck because her view was blocked by a four-by-four foot moveable construction sign that Joe Keenum Excavation & Construction Inc. employees placed at highway level and right next to her driveway. The Keenum company was performing road work nearby the Green home, where the crash occurred, and so, were responsible for temporary traffic control in the area.
During the trial, the Lexington Police Chief, Agustin Hendershot, who arrived at the scene shortly after the collision, testified that the temporary sign that was placed near Margaret’s driveway would have, in his opinion, obstructed Margaret’s view of oncoming traffic. There was extensive testimony that the sign should have been elevated, which would have increased the visual clearance. The sign was not in the right spot given the location of the road work. Moreover, there was testimony that the sign should not even have been up at all that particular day because Keenum was not working in that area that day but rather, was working on the other end of the paving project.
Keenum’s attorneys defended the case by blaming the wreck on Margaret, arguing that she should have pulled up further around the sign almost into the roadway.
Keenum was the general contractor on the road paving project. Keenum’s subcontractor for signage was also sued but settled with Mr. Green prior to the trial. Claims against the driver of the tractor trailer and his trucking company were dismissed by the Court prior to the trial.
Rip said, “The bottom line is that Keenum put a temporary construction sign WHERE it should not have been, left it up WHEN it should not have been, and set it up HOW it should not have been set up”.