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Hillsborough County, Florida

The decedent in this wrongful death action was a 24-year-old male who was employed as a furniture mover. The defendants were the owner and lessee of the tractor-trailer which collided with the decedent’’s motorcycle on U.S. Route 41 in Tampa, resulting in fatal injuries to the decedent. The plaintiff claimed that the accident resulted from a negligent lane change on the part of the defendant’’s truck driver. The defendants, on the other hand, argued that the decedent himself caused the accident by attempting to pass on the right side of the truck as it moved into the right lane.

The decedent was riding his Yamaha motorcycle south on U.S. Route 41, just east of Tampa. U.S. Route 41 is comprised of three southbound and three northbound lanes in the area where the accident occurred. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’’s tractor-trailer was traveling in the center southbound lane with its right turn signal activated. The plaintiff’’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the tractor-trailer driver negligently moved into the right lane and collided with the decedent’’s motorcycle, which was already traveling in that lane.

Two eyewitnesses testified on behalf of the plaintiff. One witness did not actually see the collision, but testified that he was driving behind the plaintiff’’s motorcycle for several miles before both vehicles turned onto Route 41. This witness testified that the motorcyclist was driving sensibly within the posted speed limit prior to the accident. The second eyewitness testified that the decedent was driving in the right lane within the speed limit when the tractor-trailer suddenly changed lanes and collided with him. Evidence showed that the decedent was thrown from his motorcycle and run over by the rear wheels of the tractor-trailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The decedent was single with no children and was survived by his parents. He had moved from his parents home into his own apartment with a roommate approximately a month before his death. The defendant called an eyewitness who testified that the tractor-trailer signaled a right turn and was moving into the right lane when the decedent’’s motorcycle attempted to pass it at a high rate of speed in the right lane.

The defendant’’s accident reconstruction expert opined that the decedent’’s motorcycle was exceeding the speed limit and that the decedent was negligent in driving up on the right side of the tractor-trailer as it changed lanes, thereby causing the accident. The jury found the defendants ________% negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $15 million comprised of $7.5 million for each parent.

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