A Quincy jury Friday returned a $411.7 million verdict for a local veteran who was paralyzed in a 45-vehicle interstate pileup in 2018. The case was the city’s first-ever virtual jury trial in Florida’s Second Circuit Court in Northern Florida.
Dwayne Washington, a former career Army sergeant and resident of Gadsden County, was represented by Ben Crump and Robert Cox in Friday’s trial. According to a statement released by his legal counsel, Washington encountered a 45+ vehicle pileup when traveling home on his motorcycle via I-10 near Tallahassee in July 2018.
“The massive crash was caused by weather conditions coupled with speeding by a Top Auto commercial vehicle driver. Washington attempted to drive his vehicle onto a median to avoid the pileup and risk other vehicles crashing into him – but before he could do so, Washington collided with a stopped truck that had no lights on in the emergency lane. The collision launched Washington into the median and left him with severe, life-threatening injuries.”
Washington’s 2018 accident caused both sides of his pelvic to break away from his spine and resulted in severe colon and urethra damage. Legal representation for Washington described their client as being in “constant pain”. Washington has limited mobility and can only walk with a specialized arm crutch due to his “withering” right leg.
“This proud veteran sacrificed so much to serve our country, and was a competent, safe driver who never even had a ticket while riding his motorcycle. The consequential negligence displayed by the Top Auto driver wrecked not only vehicles, but lives,” said Crump. “This is a significant, historic ruling for justice. COVID demanded an unprecedented Zoom trial, but it didn’t stop the jury from hearing and understanding the evidence and returning a record verdict.”
According to the press release, Top Auto of Miami rejected the legal team’s $1 million settlement offer. Washington’s medical expenses alone amounted to nearly $750,000.
“Mr. Washington may never feel physically comfortable again, but this verdict ensures that he will be well taken care of and his family will be financially secure,” said Cox.