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$________ Motor Vehicle Negligence - employee driver negligent in operation of company van - Defendant company negligent in failing to maintain brakes on the vehicle, allegedly causing vehicle to malfunction - Wrongful death of single mother of one minor child.

Durham County, North Carolina

This action arose out of a fatal auto accident allegedly caused by the combined negligence of the driver of a van in failing to operate his company vehicle in a safe manner and of the van driver’s employer (the owner of the van) in failing to properly maintain the braking system on the van. The accident resulted in the death of a 26-year-old mother of one child.

The plaintiff contended that the accident occurred when the defendant’s employee van operator approached slowed traffic traveling at an excessive rate of speed and cut across the opposite lane, colliding with the decedent, who attempted to avoid the defendant’s van by veering off of the roadway. The plaintiff’s evidence indicated that the defendant’s driver had previously reported to the defendant employer that there was a problem with the braking system. Specifically, the driver maintained that he had told the employer that the brakes would often malfunctioned if he found himself in a situation where he had to stop the van abruptly.

The evidence indicated that the van had previously been modified by a now-defunct company (prior to its purchase by the defendant) and that brake componentry was installed which was a part of a braking systems in a different, but similar, model vehicle that had been the subject of a brake recall. The van left skid marks, but the plaintiff claimed that a brake defect caused a delay prior to the brakes responding due to vapor lock. The plaintiff presented expert testimony on this issue.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant company was vicariously liable for the negligent operation of the company van by its employee driver and that the company was directly negligent for p 7 3 failing to maintain the vehicle in safe working order.

At the time of her death, the decedent was employed as a factory worker, earning approximately $________ per year. The plaintiff claimed future lost income to the estate of between $________ and $________ as well as damages for loss of society and companionship. In addition to damages for the wrongful death of the decedent, the plaintiff claimed conscious pain and suffering damages and, in this regard, claimed that the decedent was conscious for approximately five to ten minutes following the impact, but prior to her death.

The defendant company conceded negligence on the part of its employee in the operation of the van, but denied negligence in failing to maintain the vehicle.

The case settled for $________.

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