CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Jacob Leavitt delivering his opening statement
Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury heard opening statements Thursday in a lawsuit filed by a couple claiming a traffic safety company’s alleged failure to properly store an orange safety drum resulted in a collision with a motorcycle that caused a serious brain injury.
Plaintiffs Joseph “JR” Mills and his wife Peggy were riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycle to attend an event honoring veterans at Hoover Dam on Memorial Day weekend in 2017, when an orange safety drum in a construction site supposedly under the care of Superior Traffic Services rolled into their path.
Their attorney, Jacob Leavitt of Bighorn Law, told jurors during his opening statement the accident was avoidable and caused JR to suffer damage to his shoulder which will eventually require surgery, while also causing Peggy to suffer a concussion resulting in permanent brain damage.
Defense attorney Leonard Fink of Springel & Fink LLP, representing Superior Traffic Services, denied any liability for the accident, maintaining that STS contracted out responsibility for the traffic drums at the site to a different company, and that STS complied with all relevant safety guidelines prescribed by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
During his opening statement, Leavitt argued to jurors that STS ran afoul of safety regulations by allegedly failing to store safety drums at the site more than 30 feet from active travel lanes during a pause in construction like the one that took lace over Memorial Day weekend.
Leavitt told jurors the traffic drum “broadsided” the Mills’ motorcycle, which was traveling 40 miles per hour at the time. He said the impact launched both JR and Peggy from the motorcycle, and he accused STS of “cutting corners” by not safely securing the drum.
“STS refuses to take any responsibility for what it has done,” Leavitt told the jury.
Leavitt said the impact fractured JR’s scapula and will eventually require surgery, but that he’s putting it off to help to assist with Peggy's recovery, and that her injuries are far more serious.
Peggy suffered numerous lacerations and contusions and underwent two back surgeries after the accident, but Leavitt told jurors the most substantial injury involves damage to her brain, which can result in memory loss and personality changes that are unlikely to improve as a person grows older.
“Her scarring she can cover up with makeup, but her brain injury cannot be covered up with makeup,” Leavitt said. He did not ask for a specific amount of damages during his opening.
Presenting a comparatively brief opening statement of less than 10 minutes for the defense, Fink told jurors that STS contracted with a company called Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., which is not a named defendant in the case, to oversee the site’s traffic safety plan.
Fink argued the NDOT requires four safety inspections per day of roadside construction sites, and that STS complied with those requirements and should not be held liable for the Mills’ alleged injuries.
“Superior did what it was supposed to do.”
Fink indicated he expected the trial, taking place before Judge Joseph Hardy, to conclude by the middle of next week, and CVN will remain present for the duration of the proceedings.
The case is captioned Joseph and Peggy Mills v. Superior Traffic Services, case number A-19-794887-C, in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org