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United States Army Combat Soldier Receives $3.5 Million Settlement

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United States Army Combat Soldier Receives $3.5 Million Settlement After 3 Years Of Litigation Against Frivolous Defenses By CHUBB Insurance Company Who Was Behind The Scenes Making All The Litigation Decisions And Refusing to Fairly Settle And Pay Soldier For 3 Years While Negligent Trucking Company And Truck Driver With Marijuana And Psychiatric Medication In His System Was Litigated in Small Town In Iowa

Thomas Davis, a decorated thirty-eight year old career U.S. Army combat soldier was rear ended.  His left leg was amputated above the knee after the motorcycle he was operating was struck from behind by a 2011 Freightliner tractor-trailer in August 2011.  After years of litigation and refusals by the defense to pay his medical bills and compensate him for the loss of his military retirement, a settlement was reached days before the jury trial.  After having his claims frivolously denied by the trucking company’s out of state insurance company decision makers, Mr. Davis had no choice but to file a personal injury lawsuit in Cedar County District Court, Iowa.  His lawsuit was filed the on July 22, 2013 against the operator of the semi-truck and Con-Way Freight, Corporation who was determined by litigation to be vicariously liable under Iowa Law for the truck driver’s negligence.  Con-Way Freight, Inc. was formerly headquartered in Ann Arbor Charter Township, Michigan.

The Iowa soldier was on his personal time enjoying life riding his motorcycle east bound on Interstate 80 in Cedar County, Iowa in the right hand lane at approximately.  Mr. Davis was being tailgated by the semi truck and slowed his motorcycle down and pulled over to the right hand side to let the truck pass him and to attempt to get on to the shoulder of the Interstate as a safety precaution.  This is when he was rear ended by the 50,000 pound semi-truck.  The semi-truck driver had been driving erratically, changing lanes which made Mr. Davis neevous.  After rear ending the motorcycle the semi lost control and overturned in the median of Interstate 80 immediately after rear ending Mr. Davis’ motorcycle.   Discovery in the litigation of the case after the claims for damages were denied by the insirance companies revealed that the truck driver was inattentive and ‘impaired’ at the time of the collision.  Specifically, the truck driver had been taking prescription psychiatric medications and a urine specimen obtained from the truck driver subsequent to the accident revealed the positive presence of metabolites of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.  Mr. Davis’ expert witness toxicologist opined the positive urine screen was indicative of very recent marijuana use and that Con-Way Freight, Inc.’s truck driver could have ingested marijuana just prior to the accident to several days before the accident.  Mr. Davis asserted in the case that Defendant Kenneth Simmons was also in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and Iowa due to the positive urine screen test result.  Federal law and Iowa Law prohibits commercial truck drivers from having ‘any’ marijuana metabolites in their system.

Thomas Davis was a 14 year decorated military solider at the time he lost his leg, having served tours of duty in the United States Army in Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq and Kandahar, Afghanistan.  He survived combat and came back home with all of his limbs multiple times.  Then he has this happen to him by an impaired driver.  As a result of his leg amputation, he was unable to continue his career and 5 1/2 years remaining to be eligible for a military pension and life long health benefits.  Mr. Davis was honorably discharged by the United States Army as he was incapable of meeting the United States Army’s physical fitness requirements.  Mr. Davis spent over one year undergoing extensive rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas following the accident.  Mr. Davis now teaches 8th grade math in Katy, Texas.

Mr. Davis asserted in the case a claim for past loss wages and loss of future earning capacity totaling $1,992,210.00 in addition to claims for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering.  On February 18, 2016, days before trial and after the potential jurors were subpoenaed to the courthouse to serve their duty and decide the case, a multi billion dollar insurance company, Chubb Insurance Company, the insurance company insuring Con-Way Freight, Inc., came out from behind the curtains with a phone call from California.  As it turned out, CHUBB had been making the decisions all along.  The jury would have never known this.  CHUBB made the decision in a conversation with Mr. Davis’s lawyer Nicholas Rowley of Decorah to avoid trial and pay a settlement to Mr. Davis of 3.5 million dollars.  The ten day jury trial was scheduled to begin on February 22, 2016 in Cedar County District Court.  The lawyers for trial for Mr. Davis were Dominic Pechota, Joseph Low, and Nicholas Rowley.  The defendants denied fault in causing the subject accident asserting, among other defenses, that Mr. Davis was at fault in causing the subject accident by stopping or slowing his vehicle to below 10 miles per hour in the right hand lane of Interstate 80 before the collision occurred.  Defendant Con-Way Freight, Inc. also denied their truck driver was impaired at the time of the accident and that contended that the urine screen test result was unreliable.  It was only after the Court refused to allow the defense to hide the evidence of impairment from the jury that the insurance company got serious about settling the case.   Under Iowa Law, if a jury determines an injured plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff is precluded from recovering money damages.  The insurance company had high hopes of using this law to pay Mr. Davis zero by blaming him for being rear ended.

Prior to settlement, the defendants filed a motion in limine with the court attempting to exclude evidence including but not limited to the truck driver’s prior driving records and file at Con-Way Freight, Inc. which contained reference to the truck driver’s numerous prior preventable accidents and lane change violations in addition to the positive urine screen THC result.  Dominic Pechota, counsel for Mr. Davis, successfully resisted the defendants’ motion in limine seeking to exclude that portion of the foregoing truck driver’s driving file and the positive urine THC screen.  Counsel for Mr. Davis made a settlement demand of 2.5 million and gave the defendants an opportunity to settle prior to commencement of the hearing on defendants’ motions in limine.  The defendants’ insurance company’s top offer that day was 1.5 million.  Mr. Davis and his team rejected that offer as it was too little and too late.  Mr. Davis believed in the jury system and that a jury would hear the truth and make a better decision.  Mr. Davis also believed that if he gave up and didn’t push forward that the insurance companies would just believe they can get away with treating other victims that way.

After the trial judge entered his rulings on the defendants’ motion in limine, the vice president of claims for Chubb Insurance Company in California, reached out to Mr. Davis’ trial counsel, Nicholas Rowley of Decorah to discuss settlement.  The parties then reached a settlement of 3.5 million dollars.  Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer.

The plaintiff Thomas Davis was represented by attorneys Nicholas Rowley, Dominic Pechota, and Joseph Low with Trial Lawyers for Justice, headquartered in Decorah, Iowa with offices in Waterloo, Iowa, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Beverly Hills, California.  Defendants Con-Way Freight, Inc. and its truck driver were represented by attorney Dennis Ogden with Brick Gentry, P.C. in West Des Moines, Iowa and attorneys Michael Weston and Kimberly Hardeman with Lederer Weston Craig, P.C. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".