Lawrenceville, GA—A chemical company and one of its workers were cleared of liability for damages at trial last month over the death of a pedestrian killed in a crosswalk collision. Quynn v. Hulsey, et al., 15C-04812-S4.
Gwinnett County State Court jurors split responsibility for the fatal collision evenly between Brandon Lanier and Riley Hulsey, the driver who fatally struck Lanier in a Tifton crosswalk in April 2014. Lanier, 31, had stepped into the crosswalk as Hulsey, working for soil fumigation company TriEst Ag Group, began a right-hand turn into the intersection.
Under Georgia law, the 50-50 apportionment of responsibility means the plaintiff is not entitled to recover damages.
The four-day trial focused on who caused the crash, with police dash cam video that captured the collision playing a central role in the dispute. Plaintiff’s legal team portrayed Hulsey as a distracted driver rushing to pick up supplies for TriEst when the collision occurred. During closing arguments, The McArthur Law Firm’s Katherine McArthur told jurors Hulsey had a duty to look for Lanier and refrain from turning until Lanier had crossed. “[Lanier] did nothing unsafe. The pedestrian stood where he stood, and paid attention to the oncoming vehicle, and paid attention to the walk signal.” McArthur said, arguing Hulsey bore responsibility for the collision. “[Hulsey] had no right [with] the pedestrian standing there to move that truck one inch.”
McArthur did not request a specific amount in damages but told jurors similar wrongful death awards in th area ranged between $7 million and $20 million.
However, the defense argued Lanier violated Georgia law and the crosswalk’s posted instructions by stepping into the crosswalk after the pedestrian warning signal had begun to flash. During closings, Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske’s Matthew Moffett detailed video of the collision, noting Lanier stayed on the curbside during the five seconds the pedestrian “walk” signal was illuminated and did not step into the curb until nearly five seconds after the crosswalk warning began to flash. Moffett said testimony concluded Lanier likely would have been at least halfway across the intersection, and well past Hulsey’s truck, if he had stepped into the curb when the walk sign was lit. “The accident doesn’t happen if he walks on the walk signal, if he follows the signal,” Moffett said.
Moffett added that evidence on driver reaction times proved Hulsey had decided to turn before Lanier stepped into the crosswalk, and rendered it impossible for Hulsey to have avoided the collision once he began the turn. “It takes longer than one second to think about what you’re going to do and act through it,” Moffett said, contending Hulsey began his turn the same second Lanier stepped into the road. “And, as you’re thinking and acting through it, you can’t change courses within a second. It’s not possible.”
Jurors needed less than two hours to reach their verdict.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Quynn is represented by The McArthur Law Firm’s Katherine McArthur.
Riley Hulsey and Triest AG Group are represented by Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske’s Matthew Moffett and Jacquelyn Smith.
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