A jury in Columbus awarded $27 million for the family of a 22-year-old Vietnamese-American U.S. Army veteran who was killed when a tractor-trailer turned left in front of her motorcycle.
The verdict included $22 million for the life of Cindy Tran Huynh and $5 million for her pain and suffering in the moments before her death.
“It was a big honor for us and a big burden to tell the story of a person as fine as Cindy,” said Alan Hamilton of Shiver Hamilton in Atlanta. He tried the case with partner Jeff Shiver and associate Margaret Randels, along with Jim Roth of the Roth Firm in Atlanta.
“It was a career honor to be able to stand in the gap for her parents,” Hamilton added.
Hamilton and Shiver said a key moment in the trial came with Roth’s direct examination of her stepfather, who had known her since she was 8 months old. “It was a turning point and a very significant event in bringing the gravity of the loss to bear,” Shiver said. Roth let the step-dad tell the story of how she had served four years in the Army, become a paratrooper, been awarded medals, then had come home to begin college in Columbus. She planned to study international relations.
The damages-only trial started Monday and moved quickly, the lawyers said. The case went to the jury at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. And the jury was back by noon.
The only issue was the amount of damages. The defense admitted the driver of a truck, belonging to MDV Spartannash, didn’t see the motorcycle when he turned left on a solid green traffic light.
The award could have been more, as the plaintiff’s team said they asked the jury for a million dollars for every year her life expectancy was cut short, the said. She was one week from her 23rd birthday.
The defense attorney was Grant Smith of Dennis, Corry, Smith & Dixon in Atlanta. Smith declined to comment.
“Grant did a masterful job trying to eliminate the heat in the case,” Hamilton said. “The truck driver was a very nice man. He did not have drugs in his system or do anything that would anger the jury. They did not try to contest liability.”
The driver had made his last delivery and was heading back to the trucking company’s terminal at the end of the day. He was a half-mile away, Hamilton said.
The case was tried before Muscogee County State Court Judge Benjamin Richardson.
The case is Huynh v. MDV Spartannash, No. SC17CV70.