$5.5 Mil. Awarded in Lawrence County Case Over Fatal Crash

, The Legal Intelligencer

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At the time Johnson began moving toward the intersection, court papers said, Mark McConnell II was driving on a perpendicular route in his car.

The plaintiffs alleged that Johnson, in crossing the intersection, failed to heed a stop sign and flashing red lights as he crashed into McConnell's vehicle. The force of the impact forced McConnell's car across the intersection where the front driver's side of the vehicle collided with two utility poles.

Following the crash, court papers said, McConnell was trapped in his car. When emergency medical responders arrived on the scene, McConnell was pulled from the wreckage, intubated, and life-flighted to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio.

Shortly before the helicopter landed at the hospital, McConnell went into cardiac arrest due to the trauma of the accident. According to court papers, the hospital's trauma team could not resuscitate McConnell and he was pronounced dead.

Johnson's court papers claimed that Johnson had come to a stop at the intersection and had looked both ways before crossing. Johnson's papers also alleged that McConnell did not heed the flashing yellow lights in his lane of traffic, and was speeding when the two vehicles collided.

McConnell's impact with the tractor-trailer caused it to rotate clockwise, defense papers maintained, and McConnell's vehicle effectively bounced off of Johnson's truck into the utility poles.

In Guru's court papers, Guru denied that it was a joint-employer of Johnson with Howard Truckline, and thus not vicariously liable.

Guru's papers cited the state Supreme Court's opinion in Sefton v. Valley Dairy,which said that the "presence of a defendant's name on a commercial vehicle raises a rebuttable presumption that the vehicle is owned by [the] defendant and that the driver of the vehicle is a servant of [the] defendant acting within the scope of his employment."

Johnson testified that the tractor-trailer was owned by and registered to Howard Truckline, Guru's papers said.

The truck also carried the banner of Howard Truckline and as such, Guru's papers concluded, there was a presumption that Johnson was an employee of Howard Truckline.

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