Miss. Supreme Court Hears $17.2 Damage Award Appeal

September 12, 2011

The Mississippi Supreme Court will consider an appeal by APAC-Tennessee Inc. of a $17.2 million verdict a DeSoto County jury awarded to an injured teenager in 2009.

A DeSoto County jury found for Ethan Bryant of Hernando, who suffered permanent brain damage, according to court records, in a traffic collision. The jury awarded damages of $30 million. The trial judge reduced the amount to $17.2 million.

The case is among dozens before the Mississippi court during its September-October term. The court will not hear oral arguments in the case.

The lawsuit filed by the teen’s family contends Ethan Bryant spent eight months in a coma after a gravel truck plowed into the side of his pickup in August of 2006 at an intersection in Southaven.

Attorneys representing the Bryant family said the truck driver’s load was 20,000 pounds overweight and the driver had little experience.

Court records show the jury found that APAC-Tennessee – a road-paving company that hired gravel-truck driver Chad McCarty – was 70 percent responsible for the wreck.

Attorneys for APAC contended McCarty acted independently and it should not be found negligent in using a trucking contractor.

The other 30 percent in damages was split between McCarty and the company that loaded gravel.

McCarty pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault and was put on 15 years’ probation.

Bryant and his passenger, Patrick Taylor, who was killed in the collision, were both 16-year-old students and athletes at Hernando High School.

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