On Oct. 26, a Lafayette Parish jury awarded $30 million to Rayne native Ronald Stutes, who was paralyzed in 2013 when an R+L Carriers 18-wheeler failed to yield at a stop sign causing a crash.
Stutes’ attorneys say that R+L Carriers hired experts from Los Angeles to Alabama to blame Stutes, who had the right of way, for failing to slow his pick-up truck in heavy fog with a yellow flashing light on U.S. 90. The jury rejected the R+L Carriers allegations of speed and placed all fault on the R+L Carriers, an Ohio based company with more than 13,000 tractors and trailers.
The crash injured Stutes’ spine at the T-5 level, rendering him paraplegic from the chest down with limited use of his arms and has made him dependent upon a colostomy bag and catheter. He also suffered a broken neck, 19 fractured ribs, concussion, traumatic brain injury, broken right shoulder and broken clavicle, among other injuries. His condition has resulted in $9 million in past and future medical expenses. His doctors describe him as a functional quadriplegic who requires 24-hour care.
Stutes was represented by Blake R. David and Robert Brahan of the law firm Broussard & David and Marshall Montgomery of the Law Office of J. Marshall Montgomery.
It is believed that the $30 million verdict is the highest in the history of Lafayette Parish — surpassing a $21 million verdict also obtained by David in 2007.