Fort Lauderdale Attorney Scores Defense Win For Man Whose Bumper Caused Fatality

, Daily Business Review

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Samuel Tyler Hill
Samuel Tyler Hill

Campbell acknowledged Boyer said he was unaware the bumper cover came off. At trial, Campbell suggested bumper covers do not spontaneously fall off, Hill said. Campbell argued Boyer must have known the cover was loose and might come off.

The plaintiffs expert witness was Bryant Buchner, an accident reconstruction specialist from Tallahassee. He testified someone overtightened a screw on one side of the bumper. Over time, the plastic cover wore out at the screw hole and came loose, allowing wind force to blow it off.

Two other motorists driving the interstate on the day of the accident testified they saw the cover flapping and dragging.

Campbell asked the jury to award $10 million.

Defense case: The bumper cover was not preserved as evidence. Boyer repaired the car shortly after the accident. The body shop replaced the bumper and discarded the old one.

Boyer was traveling with a friend the day of the accident. Both of them denied at trial that they noticed anything amiss with the bumper. It was not until another driver chased down Boyer and told him about the cover in the road that he knew it was missing. Boyer returned to the scene and learned about the fatality, Hill said.

"They wanted to proceed to trial to get the largest judgment they could obtain and then sue Allstate on a theory that Allstate was not properly defending the case," Hill said. "I was representing the Boyers. I was not representing Allstate."

Hill offered to accept a consent judgment but only against the mother, who had no assets. The offer was refused.

On cross-examination, Hill pointed out an apparent contradiction in Buchner's testimony. He was deposed about six years earlier during preparation for the product liability case.

"He said he had no opinion regarding why the cover came off," Hill said. "Once Toyota was out of the case, he came up with the screw theory."

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