Defense Verdict in Benton County Funeral Procession Case

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On May 31 a Benton County jury rendered a defense verdict in Key v. H.C. Jett – H.C. Ford & Sons Funeral Home.
The case involved a car wreck on Highway 72. It’s a four-lane, divided highway.  The plaintiff was stopped in the highway with other vehicles waiting for a funeral procession to pass.  He was rear-ended by an approaching vehicle and suffered catastrophic injuries, including an undisputed traumatic brain injury.  The parties agreed on the nature and extent of the injuries and stipulated to over $14,000,000.00 in economic damages.
Liability was disputed.  Plaintiff claimed the funeral procession’s hearse driver caused the accident by leading the funeral procession into the highway, which blocked traffic. Plaintiff also argued the funeral procession was improperly escorted by a private escort service, instead of law enforcement with insufficient notice of the funeral procession to approaching traffic.  The funeral home and its owners were the only defendants at the time of trial.
After a four-day trial, the jury returned defense verdict. Here is the Verdict Form.
Charlie Merkel and Charles Merkel with Merkel and Cocke in Clarksdale and Rebecca Blair with the Blair Law Firm in Nashville represented the plaintiff.
Trey Byars and Mitchell Driskell with Daniel, Coker, Horton and Bell in Oxford and Randy Fishman with Ballin, Ballin and Fishman in Memphis represented the funeral home defendants.
Circuit Judge Kelly Luther presided.
My Take:
I bet that trial was a slug-fest. All star lawyers on both sides and astronomical damages.
Those kind of trials are a lot of fun….when you win.

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