Jacksonville, FL— Jurors Thursday cleared FedEx Ground Package System of responsibility for a crash that killed an 18-year-old Florida mother. Marcus, et al. v NKM Transportation, et al., 2018-CA-004903.
The Florida 4th Circuit Court jury, in Duval County, deliberated less than 90 minutes before concluding that FedEx delivery truck driver Jerry Mondestin was not responsible for the rainy day 2017 crash that killed Sari Adams Marcus, and injured her 22-month old daughter and another passenger.
The crash occurred when Marcus swerved to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming SUV in her lane, lost control of her car, and ultimately struck a concrete utility pole. The SUV had entered Marcus’s lane to pass the FedEx truck, contracted through NKM Transportation, that Mondestin had parked.
The nine-day trial turned on who was ultimately responsible for the crash. Marcus’s husband, Charles Marcus, contends Mondestin negligently blocked a lane of the residential roadway, and knew it was likely that cars would move into the oncoming lane of traffic to pass the vehicle.
During Wednesday’s closings, Marcus’s attorney, Spohrer Dodd’s Barry Newman, reminded jurors of evidence he said showed Mondestin violated a municipal parking ordinance. And he walked jurors through FedEx’s Safe Driver program protocol, which he said Mondestin violated when he blocked the roadway.
“It’s not a guideline. It doesn’t say ‘Don’t park in the roadway unless you feel like it. Don’t park in the roadway unless you really want to not get your shoes wet.’ It says ‘Don’t park in the roadway,'” Newman told jurors before outlining what he said were safer spots to stops. “There were plenty of alternatives.”
Newman suggested jurors award more than $18 million in damages for Marcus's death and her daughter's injuries.
But FedEx argues Marcus was responsible for the crash. During Wednesday’s closings, O’Melveny’s Lee Blalack challenged the assertion that Mondestin had violated a municipal parking ordinance. Instead, he told jurors Marcus had broken the law by speeding down a wet residential road and failing to slow down as she approached the truck.
“She didn’t take any effort to slow her vehicle as it approached at 70 miles an hour, [with] four vehicles passing a FedEx truck in the opposite lane, on a wet day,” Blalack said. “Her violation of both of those statutes is evidence of her negligence.”
After the verdict, Newman told CVN in an email that the family is still processing the jury's decision. "The family is obviously disappointed and will need some time to deal with the verdict," Newman said. "They are good, honest, and hardworking people, and Sari Adams Marcus will remain in their hearts forever."
And in an email to CVN after the verdict, FedEx stated "First and foremost, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Marcus and all those impacted by this tragic accident. There is no higher priority for our company than safety, and the jury’s verdict affirmed that this tragedy was caused by factors outside of FedEx Ground’s control.”
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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