Louisiana Jury Awards $117 Million to Woman Injured in Ambulance Accident While Pregnant

Arnold & Itkin law firm helps Plaquemine victim win sizeable jury verdict

Aug 02, 2012, 12:44 ET from Arnold & Itkin LLP

PLAQUEMINE, La., Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A Louisiana state court jury has awarded a $117 million verdict to a Plaquemine woman who was severely injured in a 2010 accident while riding in an ambulance that crashed into the back of a sugar cane truck near Brusly.

Attorneys Kurt Arnold, Jason Itkin and Mike Pierce from the Houston trial law firm Arnold & Itkin LLP represented Whitley Lacey and her family in the lawsuit against Louisiana-based Acadian Ambulance Service Inc. Ms. Lacey and her family also were represented by Tony Clayton and Mike Fruge of Baton Rouge-based Clayton & Fruge and the Law Office of William Gee III in Lafayette.

On Dec. 27, 2010, Ms. Lacey, who was 7 months pregnant, began suffering stomach pains and called an Acadian Ambulance to take her to the hospital.

During the routine trip to the hospital, the ambulance rear-ended a sugar cane truck on Louisiana Highway 1. Evidence at trial showed that the ambulance was traveling nearly 60 miles per hour without using its emergency lights and sirens.

"This was a horrific and preventable crash that changed the life of Whitley and her children forever," says Mr. Itkin. "We trust ambulances to take us to safety, not put us in greater danger."

Attorneys for Ms. Lacy told jurors in the 18th Judicial District Court in Iberville Parish that the ambulance driver negligently drove the vehicle and became distracted when he took his eyes off the road while reaching for a company-issued tracking device that fell to the floor.

Jurors heard about the driver's prior accidents and consistent failure to meet Acadian's minimum driving standards for more than 30 months during his employment. Acadian had internal policies requiring oversight, retraining and further education for drivers who failed these minimum standards, however trial testimony showed that Acadian failed to follow every one of its policies relating to this driver. Witnesses at the scene reported that the driver made no attempt to avoid the accident.

After the crash, Ms. Lacy prematurely gave birth to her daughter, who survived despite weighing only slightly more than 3 pounds. Ms. Lacey suffered a severed spinal cord that has left her with limited use of only one arm. Additionally, she suffered a traumatic brain injury and has remained in various hospitals since the accident. She was only 21 at the time of the accident and will have to live with her injuries for the rest of her life.

"Whitley has done everything she can to improve her situation since this accident, working hard to utilize the different facilities and therapies available to her," says Mr. Arnold. "I think the most important thing is that this verdict gives her the opportunity to get the best medical care available so she can continue to improve. I thank the jury for making this possible."

"This is a tremendous result for a young lady, who is doing everything she can to get better and be a mother to her children," says Mr. Pierce. "I am honored that our firm was able to help her."

The jury award of $116,939,241 in actual damages was handed down on August 1, 2012.

Arnold & Itkin LLP represents clients in high-stakes cases involving serious personal injury claims, maritime accidents, medical and pharmaceutical injuries, products liability and business disputes. To learn more, visit the firm's website at http://www.arnolditkin.com.

For more information on the verdict, please contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

SOURCE Arnold & Itkin LLP