Dalton, GA— Attorneys Tuesday debated who caused the 2016 crash that catastrophically injured a Georgia man’s legs, as trial began against a freight company and a pickup truck driver involved in the accident. Monroe v. Lane's Equipment Rental, et al., 16-CI-00833.
Donald Monroe, 49 at the time, was struck by a pickup truck driven by Greefus Patterson, as Patterson swerved to avoid a Lane’s Equipment Rental tractor-trailer driven by Daniel McGuffee, who had pulled out onto South Dixie Highway in Dalton.
The crash forced doctors to amputate Monroe’s left leg below his knee and required him to undergo multiple surgeries on his right leg.
Monroe, an employee at a Dalton-area scrap metal company who had loaded the Lane’s tractor-trailer minutes before the crash, claims McGuffee pulled out onto the highway without yielding to oncoming traffic.
During Tuesday’s openings, Monroe’s attorney, Law & Moran’s Pete Law, walked jurors through the crash timeline, noting that visibility on the roadway was reduced by clouds and rain that morning.
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Law told jurors evidence would show Monroe was off the road behind metal bins when the crash occurred, and that McGuffee improperly pulled onto the highway, blocking both lanes of traffic, without yielding to Patterson’s oncoming pickup.
“We think it would have been two ships passing in the night had the truck [met] his exclusive responsibility and just given Mr. Patterson enough time,” Law said. “Maybe he couldn’t see. Maybe he didn’t have good visibility, but if you don’t know, you don’t go.”
But The James Firm’s Stuart James, representing McGuffee and Lane’s, argues Patterson caused the wreck. James said Monroe acted as a spotter while McGuffee pulled onto a roadway that allowed about 700 feet of visibility in both directions. Meanwhile, James said, Patterson failed to see the truck because of vision problems, including a cataract that clouded his left eye.
James played police dashcam video taken minutes after the accident that he said showed vehicles readily visible on the roadway, despite the weather. “Is the reason that Mr. Patterson had impaired vision from 700 feet back because he had a cataract in his left eye… he saw something move, and he veered to the right?” James asked.
But Patterson’s attorney, Carlock Copeland’s Angela Kopet, argued there was no medical evidence Patterson had a cataract at the time of the crash. During Tuesday’s openings, she maintained McGuffee pulled into the roadway improperly, without regard to Patterson’s approach. “There’s a cherry red pickup truck with headlights coming down the road, and he still pulled out.” she said. “He failed to yield.”
The case is expected to go to the jury by Friday.
Donald and Rhonda Monroe are represented by Law & Moran’s Pete Law, E. Michael Moran, and Patrick Wheale.
Stuart James, of The James Firm, and David Ward of Michel & Ward, both based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, represent McGuffee and Lane’s.
Carlock Copeland’s Brian Spitler and Angela Kopet represent Greefus Patterson.