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Jury Awards $5.25 Million to Family of Fatal Tractor Trailer Wreck Victim

The Charlottesville Daily Progressed reports that an Albemarle County, Virginia jury has awarded $5.25 million to the family of a 16-year-old girl who was killed in a tractor trailer wreck in 2008.

The jury found that the truck driver Kenneth Barbour was negligent when his tractor trailer ran a red light on May 9, 2008 and crashed into a Chevrolet Cavalier driven by 16-year-old Sydney Aichs. The Don B. Swisher Trucking Corporation and McCann Delivery Service were also found to be negligent. The verdict came after a two-day trail in Albemarle Circuit Court. Earlier this year, Barbour pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

The family of Sydney Aichs filed a $15 million lawsuit against the defendants in October 2008, accusing them of negligence and requesting punitive damages. The judge granted a motion to strike punitive damages against Barbour since his actions did not meet all the required thresholds for negligence.

It took the jury three hours to reach a decision. Sydney’s father Clinton Aichs began to cry when Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins read off the verdict, which awarded $1.75 million to Sydney’s father, mother, and brother. The father and mother embraced after the verdict was read. Their attorney J. Gregory Webb also received hugs from the parents.

“We are very pleased the jury came back with the verdict,” Webb said. “I think it’s the right verdict . . . We are thankful for the jury’s thoughtfulness.”

Webb said that his clients felt vindicated after verdict was announced.

Attorney John Zunka, who represented Barbour and his former employer, did not comment on the verdict and did not say if his clients would appeal.

The lawsuit alleged that Barbour did not slow down as he approached the intersection in his tractor trailer truck. Aichs was making a left turn in her car when the tractor trailer hit her car. The lawsuit claimed that Barbour’s employers were negligent for not properly training and supervising Barbour and for allowing him to drive his big rig when it had defective parts.

Clinton Aichs, the father of the victim, was the final plaintiff witness in the trial last Friday morning. He told the jury how hard life has been for his family since his daughter’s tragic death.

“[One of us] will use a credit card at [a store] and someone will see the name and say, ‘Isn’t that the girl who died at the intersection?’” he said. He told the court that he lies about his identity whenever this happens to keep the speaker from feeling guilty.

It’s difficult to imagine the hardships that a family must endure after losing someone in a tragic accident. If you’ve lost a family member in a tractor trailer truck wreck due to negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company, contact an experienced Georgia tractor trailer wreck lawyer immediately. At MLN Law, we provide caring, aggressive representation for personal injury victims and their families. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.

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