Trial Court Roundup: $120M Verdict for Man Paralyzed in Crash With Utility Vehicle

Posted by Arlin Crisco on May 10, 2021 2:44:47 PM


Stock image. 

Editor’s Note: CVN cameras did not record this proceeding. 

Gainesville, FL— A Florida state court jury last week handed down a $120 million verdict to a man who was paralyzed in a 2015 crash with a municipal utility vehicle. Rodgers v. City of Gainesville d/b/a Gainesville Regional Utilities, 2016-CA-000659. 

Jurors in Florida’s 8th Circuit found Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) driver William Stormant 100 percent responsible for the crash that paralyzed Jacob Rodgers. Thursday’s award in the in-person trial includes more than $114 million in damages for Rodgers’s pain and suffering. 

Following the verdict, GRU issued a statement to CVN noting statutory caps on recovery. “The City maintains funds in reserve, apart from operational assets, through which settlements and judgements can be disbursed. Fla. Stat. § 768.28 sets limits of liability for the state, its agencies, and subdivisions at $200,000."

Rodgers suffered catastrophic spinal injuries and was left with paraplegia after Stormant, driving a GRU vehicle, ran a stop sign and struck the truck in which Rodgers, then 20, was a passenger. 

Rodgers argued Stormant was to blame for the October 2015 crash.  GRU, a utility overseen by the city of Gainesville, Florida, contended Rodgers and the driver of the other truck, Hank Blackwell, were at fault because Rodgers was not wearing his seat belt at the time, and Blackwell was speeding. 


“We are pleased that we were able to win justice for Jacob, who was 10 days shy of his 21st birthday when he was paralyzed for the rest of his life,” Rodgers’s attorney, Morgan & Morgan’s Jeff Humphries, said in a statement issued after the verdict. 

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Related Information

Jacob Rodgers is represented by Morgan & Morgan’s Brian McClain and Jeff Humphries. 

Gainesville Regional Utilities is represented by Holland & Knight’s Joseph Varner and Bradford Kimbro.

Topics: Florida, Transportation