Articles & Updates

"Jury Gives Just $100 To Injured Motorcyclist"

by Scott Lauck - Missouri Lawyers Weekly

A motorcyclist involved in a crash on a rural highway won a tiny verdict from a Chariton County jury, which effectively amounted to a defense win.

Jurors found plaintiff Mark Prior had suffered damages of $1,000 but also assessed him to be 90 percent at fault for his injuries. That left defendant Charles DeWolfe responsible for a judgment of just $100.

DeWolfe was moving from Bowling Green, Missouri, to the Chariton County city of Salisbury in January 2016. About four miles from his final destination, a box fell from the back of DeWolfe’s flatbed truck, scattering kitchenware into the middle of U.S. Highway 24.

Three vehicles behind DeWolfe’s truck came to an abrupt stop. Prior’s motorcycle was unable to stop and rear-ended the vehicle in front of him. Prior fell off of his motorcycle and alleged that he suffered three broken ribs, a broken toe, a sprained ankle, a potentially broken thumb, a puncture wound requiring stitches and road rash on his face. He said the injuries interfered with his ability to walk his dogs, bowl, hunt, ride his motorcycle and operate heavy machinery.

Although Prior’s and DeWolfe’s vehicles never collided, Prior’s lawsuit alleged DeWolfe’s negligence in securing his belongings on the truck’s bed caused the accident. At trial, Prior demanded $100,000, according to defense attorney James Godfrey. Godfrey argued at trial that the plaintiff was following the other vehicles too closely.

The plaintiff sought the policy limits of $50,000. The defense offered $6,000 before the suit was filed but made no offers once the case was in litigation.

Andrew Drazen, an attorney at Page Law who represented Prior, confirmed the facts of the case and said no appeal was filed.


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