In late 2012, a Missouri jury deliberated three hours following a week-long trial, awarding a $14.7 million verdict to the family of a woman injured in a 2008 crash involving a MO Department of Transportation dump truck. The verdict awarded to Mr. Smith and his clients comes more than four years after the crash that killed 10-year-old Allison Pfeiffer and seriously injured Ann Ferguson. According to the trial judge, this multi-million verdict is the largest ever given in Adair County.
The A. W. Smith Law Firm worked tirelessly for over three years on behalf of Ferguson’s father and court-appointed guardian on the case against the MO Dept. of Transportation and its driver. At the time of the accident, the DOT crews were in the area cleaning up debris after recent flooding. The driver was hauling a 25-foot driftwood log in the back of a 16-foot dump truck with the tailgate down. Ms. Ferguson crashed into the back of the truck suffering a severe brain injury that left her permanently disabled. The minor plaintiff Pfeiffer was pronounced dead at the scene and her lawsuit is still pending. The Department’s internal policies prohibited drivers from leaving truck tailgates down.
Mr. Smith convinced the jury that had the tailgate been up, there would have been a low probability of injury. The jury attributed 25% fault to Ferguson and the damages were reduced accordingly. After statutory damage caps and reductions for fault assessed against Ms. Ferguson, the anticipated payout to the family was estimated at approximately $9.14 million. As is often the case with jury verdicts such as this, the defense filed an appeal. Mr. Smith and his clients prepared for yet more litigation and delays of justice. However, the case was mediated in April, 2013 and Mr. Smith was able to achieve a settlement of $5 million.