Lafayette jury awards $30MM to Rayne native paralyzed by 18-wheeler

LAFAYETTE, LA – October 27, 2016

A Lafayette Parish jury awarded $30,438,225.00 to Rayne native Ronald Stutes, who was paralyzed when an R+L Carriers 18-wheeler failed to yield at a stop sign causing a crash.

On January 23, 2013, R+L Carriers employee, Gerald Pitre, was operating an eighteen-wheeler loaded with hazardous cargo when he failed to yield at a stop sign and red flashing light at the intersection of Austria Road and U.S. 90 (Cameron Street) near Duson, Louisiana. Ronald Stutes, a master carpenter, was on his way to work at 5:30 a.m. when the 18-wheeler pulled directly into the path of his pick-up truck.

R+L Carriers, an Ohio based company with over 13,000 tractors and trailers, hired experts from Los Angeles to Alabama to blame Ronald Stutes, who had the right of way, for failing to slow his pick-up truck in heavy fog on U.S. 90. The jury rejected R+L Carriers’ allegations of speeding and placed all fault on R+L Carriers and its driver.

The crash injured Ronald Stutes’ spine at the T-5 level. It rendered him paraplegic from the chest down with limited use of his arms and has made him dependent upon a colostomy bag and catheter. He also suffered a broken neck, 19 fractured ribs, concussion, traumatic brain injury, broken and frozen right shoulder, broken clavicle and broke scapula, among many other injuries. His condition has resulted in $8,988,255.00 in past and future medical expenses. His doctors described him as a functional quadriplegic who requires 24-hour care and his life expectancy has been reduced by the severe and ongoing nature of his injuries.

Blake R. David and Robert Brahan of Broussard, David & Moroux and J. Marshall Montgomery of the Law Office of J. Marshall Montgomery represented the plaintiff. It is believed that the verdict over $30MM is the highest in the history of Lafayette Parish – surpassing a $21.4MM verdict obtained by Blake R. David in 2007.

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