$13.1 Million

Verdict for Claflin University Student Involved in Deadly I-77 Wreck

The Case: In 2016, a group of five students, all attending Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, were traveling on I-77 when they encountered an area of the interstate that had been recently repaved—but not marked with signs or barriers as a construction zone. Part of a 12-mile, $88 million SCDOT road rehab project, Archer Western had been awarded the work. Sloan Construction was a subcontractor hired to pour and install new layers of asphalt.

For an unknown reason, the students’ car left the highway and entered a grassy median. When the driver regained control and attempted to reenter the roadway, his front tire encountered an approximately steep shoulder edge drop-off that caused him to oversteer. This resulted in a complete loss of control over the vehicle. It flipped and landed upside down in the interstate roadway. Four of the five students, including the driver, were killed. Our plaintiff suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and was hospitalized for weeks.

The Outcome: The suit was brought against Archer Western, SCDOT, and Sloan Construction. Defenses were numerous, and both liability and damages were contested during the trial. But ultimately, our attorneys proved this tragedy could have been avoided had industry-standard safety precautions been taken. Archer Construction was deemed more than 50 percent at fault, in addition to having acted recklessly with conscious disregard for public safety, and thus liable for the entire verdict.

Of the $13.1 million, the jury awarded the plaintiff $203,717 in past medical expenses, $505,673 in future medical expenses, $1,392,169 in loss of earning capacity, $7,000,000 in non-economic damages, and $4,000,000 in punitive damages against Archer Western.

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