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Palm Beach County (26923)

The plaintiffs in this wrongful death action were the 22-year-old decedent’s mother and the guardian of his minor daughter. The defendants included the driver of a tractor-trailer and the trucking company which owned the truck. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant’s tractor-trailer negligently attempted to pass another vehicle on a two-lane rural road, striking the decedent’s oncoming vehicle head-on.

The defendant argued that the decedent’s ability to operate his vehicle was impaired by the use of marijuana and thus the decedent was comparatively negligent in causing the accident.

In the early morning hours of February 11, ________, the decedent was en route to work on a two-lane (one lane in each direction) rural road, when his car collided head-on with the defendant’s tractor- trailer as the tractor-trailer attempted to pass another vehicle in its lane of travel. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant truck driver was negligent in attempting to pass a slower-moving vehicle on the narrow, two-lane roadway in dark and foggy conditions. The plaintiff maintained that the decedent was driving in his lane and had no opportunity to avoid the collision.

The decedent was pronounced dead at the scene. He was survived by a two-year-old daughter and his mother. The decedent lived with his daughter and his daughter’s mother, but was not married. The couple was scheduled to be married in April (two months after the decedent’s death). The decedent was employed in the construction field and earned approximately $9 per hour. The plaintiff’s economist estimated the plaintiff’s economic damages to be in the range of $________ to $________.

The defense disputed the plaintiff’s contentions that the accident occurred in dense fog. Postmortem toxicologist reports indicated that the decedent had a 35 nanogram level of THC and a 7 nanogram level of carboxyl THC in his system at the time of his death. The defendant’s toxicologist opined that these levels indicated consumption of marijuana within an hour of the accident. This expert also contended that the THC levels were equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .08 and would have substantially impaired the decedent’s ability to operate his vehicle.

The defendant’s economist opined, based on Florida’s minimal child support guidelines, that the plaintiff’s economic damages were approximately $________ to $________.

The case settled prior to trial for a total of $________.