Jury Delivers $11 Million Verdict In Teen-Train Case
Missy Martin's Family Sought $6.6 Million, Plus Punitive Damages
8:58 AM, Jun 24, 2005
The jury reached a verdict in a lawsuit filed by Missy Martin's family against Union Pacific Railroad, just six hours after closing statements wrapped up Thursday morning.
The jury decided in favor of Martin and awarded her more than $11 million, 7NEWS reported.The jury awarded the family $6 million for medical expenses and lost earnings, $600,000 for previous medical expenses, $350,000 for her permanent impairment and $150,000 for pain and suffering. It also kicked in $4 million in punitive damages."I felt good," Martin said right after the verdict was delivered. "And I feel like this whole, last two, past years isn't a waste ... This will help.""She has a lot of work to do but this really helps her with that, with her future," said Dave Martin, Missy's father. "We shudder to think earlier today and throughout the court case, what would happen the other way, it it had gone the other way. Honestly, this is not over for her. She's got a long struggle ahead of her, but I gotta tell you, this really helps."Attorneys for Union Pacific Railroad did not comment other than to say that they will appeal the ruling.Martin was 16 years old when a Union Pacific train hit her stalled car at a Castle Rock railroad crossing in November 2002.Her family claimed that the train conductor could have pulled the emergency brakes when he saw Martin's car on the tracks. Their attorney argued that when the train rounded a curve the conductor could see that her vehicle was already in harm's way and he did nothing about it.In his closing statement, Martins' attorney Bob Schuetze said that the conductor -- who is a named defendant in the case -- "laid on the horn and expected her to get out of the way." The conductor "rolled the dice" that she would get off the tracks instead of doing something proactive -- like stopping, said Schuetze.Union Pacific Railroad claimed that Martin's vehicle was in the clear until it was pushed onto the tracks by Martin's then-boyfriend, who was in a pickup truck right behind her and unsuccessfully tried to ram her car across the tracks.Defense attorney Steve Napper said that the conductor made a judgment call based on years of experience and he asked the jury, "What person would not want to avoid that kind of an accident?"Because of the crash, Martin suffered a severe brain injury and spent nearly two months in a coma. Doctors say she may need physical therapy for the rest of her life and will not be able to hold a steady job.The former high school cheerleader who had aspired to be a nurse now walks with a cane and attends community college part-time.