Police Car Hit Motorcycle Carrying Two

Officer Claimed Driver Was Drunk

$840,000 Settlement

Paul and Cheri Sharp sued the City of Kirksville and police officer Justin L. Jones after they were injured in an accident with Jones on May 23, 1999 on U.S. Business 63 in Kirksville.

The Sharps claimed Jones made a U-turn directly into the path of their motorcycle. Paul, 40, was driving and Cheri, 36, was a passenger. The motorcycle left a 31-foot skid mark before striking the driver’s side of the police car between the front tire and the door. Paul slammed into the police car and landed on the road. Cheri was ejected over the top of the car.

Paul sustained a closed head injury, left humerus fracture, right fibula and tibia fracture, pelvic fracture, left acetabulum fracture and blowout tripod fracture of right orbit. Cheri suffered a fracture of the right femur and tibia, a right malleolous fracture and a left mandibulur subcondylar fracture.

As a result of the accident, Paul is totally disabled. Cheri returned to work 18 months later and is attending college.

Emergency workers found Paul’s blood alcohol content to be .186 percent.

The Sharps claimed that Jones was negligent for failing to yield to their right-of-way, for failing to keep a careful lookout and for failing to signal before turning.

The defendants claimed Paul was negligent for driving while intoxicated to the point that his driving was impaired and that Cheri knowingly rode on a motorcycle with an intoxicated driver. They also contended that Paul’s intoxication impaired his ability to perceive and react to the officer’s actions.

The police officer testified in deposition that he activated his right turn signal before driving onto the right-hand shoulder of the road, but he denied activating his left turn signal before commencing the U-turn. He testified that he did not see the motorcycle until after the crash.

The Sharps received $825,000 from Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association in full settlement of both their claims. On Cheri’s claim, the defendants filed a third-party claim against Paul. State Farm, which insured the motorcycle, contributed $15,000 to the settlement.

Type of Action: Automobile accident

Type of Injuries: Closed head injury, multiple fractures

Court/Case Number/Date: Adair County Circuit Court/CV199-234CC/Sept. 24, 2001

Caption: Sharp v. The City of Kirksville, et al.

Judge, Jury or ADR: Settlement

Name of Judge: Russell E. Steele

Verdict or Settlement: $840,000 settlement

Special Damages: $105,737 medical expense (Paul); $57,044 medical expense (Cheri)

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Last Offer: N/A

Last Demand: N/A

Attorney for Plaintiff: Jay Benson, (Kirksville, MO)

Insurance Carrier: Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association; State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Dr. John Bailey, Kirksville (orthopedic surgeon); Dr. Christine Cheng, St. Louis (plastic surgeon); Patrick Demers, Front Royal, Va. (toxicologist); James England Jr., St. Louis (vocational consultant); Dr. Brick Johnstone, Columbia (neuropsychologist); Dr. Edward Mosby, Kansas City (oral/maxillofacial surgeon); Dr. Mark Reader, Kirksville (ear, nose and throat surgeon); Dr. L.D. Schoengarth, Columbia (ophthalmologist); Dr. Robert Silvers, Columbia (neurologist); John Ward, Kansas City (economist); Lyn Woolford, Columbia (accident reconstructionist)

Defendant’s Experts: Christopher Long, St. Louis (toxicologist); Stan Oglesby, Concordia (accident reconstructionist); Joy Pugh, Kirksville (criminologist); Marc Vianello, Kansas City (accountant/economist); Gary Weimholt, Jefferson City (vocational consultant )

Story taken from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. Vol. 15, No. 48. November 26, 2001, pp. 5-6.