In the face of a catastrophically injured accident victim, persuading a jury of the victim's negligence may be one of a defense attorney's toughest tasks. In the closings of a $12 million trial over a 15-ton trash truck's wreck with a bicyclist, Richard Womble lays out a powerful case to clear his client. Truong v. Waste Services of Florida, Inc., 2013-CA-00353.
Bicyclist Thomas Truong was hit by a Waste Services of Florida truck driven by William Bocker, as Bocker’s vehicle turned right onto Orlando’s John Young Parkway in 2012. The accident left Truong with injuries and resulting infections so severe, he spent more than 200 days in the hospital, and the future of his leg still remained in jeopardy at the time of the trial four years later.
Truong’s legal team argued Bocker caused the wreck because he had been driving at an unsafe speed andfailed to check his mirrors.
However, in closings of the week-long trial, Womble argued the fault lay with Truong. “What caused this accident?" Womble asked. "Unfortunately it was Mr. Truong.”
Womble walked jurors through the logistics of the crash, showing them footage of a truck like the one involved in the wreck as it sat at the intersection where the crash occurred. The truck, Womble noted, left only a small space of roadway used as a gutter where Truong had tried to pass.
“I’m not being mean to Mr. Truong, but it must be said. What reasonable person riding a bike would choose to ride in this gutter…with a vehicle [like this]… right to your left?” Womble asked.
“Mr. Truong claims he was in a bike lane, but we know it’s not a designated bike lane,” Womble said. “While Mr. Truong is sadly mistaken… it is not the fault of Mr. Bocker.”
Truong's $12 million request for damages came apart with Womble's closing, as the jury returned a verdict clearing Bocker and Waste Management Services of negligence.
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