Family of Western Pa. Driver Killed by Tractor-Trailer Awarded $5.5M in Wrongful Death Case

As he drove his Chevrolet Cobalt in Mahoning Township, north of Pittsburgh, on Aug. 18, 2008, 22-year-old Mark McConnell II was tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time. As he drove, a tractor-trailer parked on the side of the road pulled into his path without warning, causing a heavy collision that killed McConnell.

Now, more than five years later, his family has been awarded $5.5 million in damages by a Lawrence County, Pa., jury, which finally brings an end to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit that was filed in the matter, according to a Jan. 14 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The verdict on behalf of McConnell’s parents, Vickie and Mark A. McConnell, came after the jury found the tractor-trailer driver, Andrew V. Johnson, 30 percent negligent and his employer, Guru Global Logistics LLC, 70 percent negligent, the story reported.

Johnson’s truck “was idling on an on-ramp leading into an intersection while he waited inside for instructions from one of his joint-employers as to where he would be traveling,” just as the crash developed, the story reported. “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.”

McConnell was trapped in his vehicle following the crash and was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, where he went into cardiac arrest and died, the story reported.

“Johnson’s court papers claimed that Johnson had come to a stop at the intersection and had looked both ways before crossing,” the report stated. “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.”

The defense also claimed that the collision between the two vehicles caused McConnell’s car to rotate clockwise and effectively bounce off of Johnson’s truck into the utility poles.

After hearing the facts of the case, the jury awarded the McConnell family $2.1 million for the loss of their late son’s future earning capacity; as well as $3 million for loss of services, society and comfort; and $365,000 for conscious pain and suffering, the story reported.

McConnell lived in Edinburg when he was killed, according to a 2008 story about the crash in the New Castle News in New Castle, Pa.

McConnell’s tragic death potentially could have been prevented had the defendant made a better effort to safely check for traffic before pulling his rig back on to the roadway.

At the same time, there’s something else notable about this large verdict compared to what are usually smaller wrongful death awards from juries in more conservative parts of Pennsylvania away from the Philadelphia area.

“This is the largest Lawrence County verdict to have been reported by The Legal over the past 20 years, according to information compiled in The Legal’s annual magazine, PaLaw,” The Legal Intelligencer report continued. “According to PaLaw, Lombardo v. Gardner, a $2.79 million medical malpractice verdict in 2006, was formerly the top Lawrence County verdict.”

This is a very interesting development for prospective plaintiffs who are seeking damages in clear wrongful death cases in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the past, large verdicts like these were typically only awarded by juries in Philadelphia, where such amounts don’t cause juries to balk, but this and other recent cases are showing that those old patterns are changing. For plaintiffs, this is a positive sign across Pennsylvania in recent years.

It’s a trend that we’re seeing locally and it is evidence that victims of accidents, wrongful death and also medical malpractice who have suffered catastrophic injuries are able to win significant and fair verdicts when the evidence is clear and convincing – no matter where in the Commonwealth that the case is heard.  It means that plaintiffs can now go to court with the facts on their side anywhere and receive substantial and deserved awards for their serious injuries caused by the unfortunate actions of others.

These kinds of cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle accidents through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.