In closing arguments, R. Gene Odom, representing Jerry Johnson in his suit against Daniel Drakulich, tells the jury it has nearly limitless power to compensate Johnson for the range of pain, suffering, and injuries, including the loss of his legs, caused when Drakulich struck Johnson with his car. Jurors awarded Johnson and his family $26 million.
Bradenton, FL—Jurors awarded a former sanitation worker and his family $26 million in their suit against the driver whose vehicular collision cost the worker his legs. Jerry Johnson v. Paul Drakulich.
Jerry Johnson and his wife Sabrina sued Paul Drakulich, who was 19 when he struck Johnson in December 2011 as Johnson waited by his disabled Waste Management truck. The collision crushed Johnson’s legs and pelvis, among other injuries. Doctors ultimately amputated Johnson’s legs, and he was hospitalized for more than five months following the accident. The jury deliberated for less than five hours before rendering its verdict, which awarded $20.6 million to Johnson, $3.4 million to Sabrina, and $1 million each to Johnson's two children.
At trial, the defense admitted Drakulich’s fault in the incident but argued that Johnson sought an excessive amount for his future expenses and lost earnings. The case turned on Johnson's damages, with both sides presenting conflicting expert testimony concerning Johnson's future expenses. In closing arguments Tuesday, J. Emory Wood urged jurors to award the Johnsons $9.68 million, saying "It's a terrible case, but it's not a situation for punishment. It's a situation for determining a value for these losses."
However, Johnson's attorney, R. Gene Odom, told jurors in closing arguments that the combination of Johnson's injuries was more severe, and warranted more in damages, than the sum of each indvidual injury. "The damage to his kidneys, lungs, brains, eyesight, legs, stating the obvious: it's a synergistic effect on him that has an exponential effect on him," Odom said.