A jury has awarded a 44-year-old motorcyclist struck by a car at a Waterbury intersection $130,000.
The six-person Waterbury Superior Court jury deliberated for two hours Oct. 17 before rendering a verdict for Bobby Jones Jr.
The case had several wrinkles, primarily because the driver who struck Jones and fled is not known, and the owner of the car in question claims she has no idea why her vehicle was being driven that day. The driver of the Toyota that struck Jones in August 2016 knocked him off his motorcycle and fled the scene after briefly stopping, according to James Miron, Jones’ attorney.
Lilliam Soto, the owner of the car, said she left the vehicle with a man she knew only as Gary for repairs. She claimed she had no idea how to reach Gary, or who might have driven her car that day, said Miron, a partner with the Bridgeport-based Zeisler & Zeisler.
“A lot of what Soto said was very sketchy,” Miron said.
The case was made more complicated by questions about the insurance policy, Miron said Friday.
“For a lot of reasons Geico [Jones' insurer] probably wanted some of those complications,” said Miron, who noted that Geico tried to argue that Jones was primarily responsible for his own accident.
Jones, who testified during the trial, “was credible on the stand,” Miron said. “We had to tell Bobby’s story while, at the same time, understanding that the defense was saying Bobby was not telling the truth. Their strategy was that the collision was all or in large part Bobby’s fault.”
In the end, the one-and-a-half-day trial ended with a verdict for the plaintiffs. The defense could appeal to the Connecticut Appellate Court, but, Miron said, “I don’t think there are any appellate arguments they have. This amount was clearly within the Geico insurance [$300,000] policy limits.”
Jones, a truck driver by trade, sustained injuries to his lower and upper back and right leg, Miron said. Physical therapy regimens have, for the most part, healed Jones’ upper back and leg problems, but not his lower back pain, Miron said.
“To this day, because of his lower back pain, my client’s ability to sleep is affected. It also affects his ability to sit and stand for long periods of time,” Miron said.
Soto’s carrier, State Farm Insurance, had previously paid Jones $20,000, which would come from the jury verdict. Therefore, if the verdict stands, Geico would be on the hook for $110,000, not $130,000.
Soto was represented by Jesse Conrad of the Hartford offices of Halloran Sage. Conrad declined to comment Friday.
Geico is represented by Peter O’Keefe of the Wethersfield offices of Jackson O’Keefe. O’Keefe did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
In court papers, Geico said it had insufficient knowledge as to Jones’ injuries, and left the plaintiff’s side to offer its proof. In addition, Geico claimed, Jones should be held responsible for the collision due to his own “negligence.”