$10M Settlement as Jury Deliberates in Trial Over Deadly Crash Involving Big Rig

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Feb 22, 2024 2:09:43 PM


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Decatur, GA— A trucking company’s insurer agreed to a $10 million settlement for a deadly 2016 crash involving a big rig, as jurors deliberated in trial over the case earlier this month, attorneys for one of the plaintiffs told CVN. Freeman, et al. v. ACE American Insurance Co., et al., 17A62825.

The settlement, on behalf of C&T Durham Trucking Co., includes $9.5 million for the death of Taliah Freeman and $500,000 for injuries suffered by Steven Haynes in a late-night, multi-vehicle crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County, north of Atlanta, according to Cook Law Group’s Matt Cook, who represents Freeman’s family. 

Parties reached the settlement as jurors deliberated following a six-day trial over the incident, which began with a collision between a C&T Durham big rig and an SUV driven by Haynes, with Freeman as a passenger. That crash left the SUV disabled broadside on the highway. When Freeman and Haynes left the SUV, a minivan driven by Joaquin Nomura struck, killing Freeman and injuring Haynes.

Nomura also settled the case with the plaintiffs for a confidential amount. 

Lazenby Law Group’s Shane Lazenby, who represents Freeman’s family with Cook, said the trucking company defense team approached plaintiffs regarding a potential settlement shortly after the trial’s closing arguments. “Those were the first offers we’d received in… years,” Lazenby said, with Cook adding that the trucking insurer's previous highest offer was $1.5 million. 

A key point of contention in the case was which vehicle caused the initial collision between the C&T big rig and the SUV. “The defense hung their hat on the weakest point of the evidence, which was witness accounts from people who were involved, who were traumatized, who maybe had a second to observe what was going on,’ Cook said. “And so we focused our case on the physical evidence, which was overwhelmingly in our favor.”


Lazenby added that accident reconstruction testimony was key. “It was such a stark contrast between the accident reconstructionists,” Lazenby said. “Our accident reconstructionist [Jeffrey Kidd] really put the puzzle pieces together so much more clearly than theirs.”

Cook and Lazenby said they learned after the settlement that jurors were largely leaning toward rendering a “substantial” plaintiff’s verdict, with one “holdout” juror who had a difference of opinion on the case.

Cook said that both the jurors' opinions and the settlement itself helped provide a resolution for Freeman’s family. “It was a long-awaited opportunity to have affirmation from an impartial jury and affirmation from the insurance company that Taliah’s life meant something and that C&T Durham was responsible for it,” Cook said. 

“This was a huge opportunity for Sandra Gallo, the mother of Taliah Freeman, to have closure in the case,” Lazenby added, noting that the defense had intimated that Freeman was partially responsible for failing to leave the highway quickly enough. “I think that was very hurtful to Sandra, but to have a jury weigh in and ultimately decline to agree with that in a very profound way was closure for her, and a good way to move on with her life.”

CVN has reached out to attorneys for the other parties in the case and will update this article with any comments. 

Email Arlin Crisco at

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Topics: Transportation, Trucking, Freeman, et al. v. ACE Insurance Co.