A woman, struck and seriously injured by a truck, was able to sue the driver’s employer, not just the driver. Now the company has to pay a record settlement for a personal injury case.
Shirley Miller was crossing a street in New York City when she was struck by a Duane Reade truck. Miller was legally within a crosswalk at the time.
She suffered serious brain damage and blindness. Her ability to speak at all is severely limited.
Miller was 32 when this happened … on her birthday.
She and her parents sued Duane Reade, a subsidiary of drug store chain Walgreens, asking for up to $100 million for her future care and medical expenses.
The case went to a jury trial. After testimony was presented, Duane Reade signaled it was willing to reach a settlement. The final figure: $22 million, a record personal injury settlement in New York state. According to the New York Daily News, the previous largest award to a single plaintiff was $17.9 million.
Details of the settlement haven’t been made public.
The key in this case is what’s known as vicarious liability. In general, that’s when someone is held responsible for the actions of another person. In the workplace, it’s when an employer is liable for the acts of its employees, as long as the action took place in the course of employment.
There’s no doubt truck driver Henry Lowis was in the course of employment when Miller was struck.
Duane Reade had tried to argue that Miller had slipped on ice. Through witnesses and medical testimony, her attorney was able to prove she was hit by the front end of the truck and didn’t slip on ice.
After his truck struck Miller, Lowis didn’t stop. Not only that, but after the hit-and-run, the driver first called his bosses and union instead of 911.
Miller is now 37. Her injuries make it likely that her parents or others will have to take care of her for the rest of her life.