Jury awards no money to man seriously injured in 2008 crash

By Stephen Betts | Sep 14, 2017

Rockland — A Knox County jury ruled a lumber company was negligent in the design of its driveway, but that it was not the cause of a 2008 crash between a pickup truck leaving its property and a motorcyclist traveling on Route 1.

The jury voted 7-2 Thursday, Sept. 14, to rule that Viking Lumber was not the cause of the crash. The ruling came after more than four hours of deliberations over two days. The trial had taken up much of two weeks in Knox County Superior Court.

Seth Howard of Morrill had sought damages against Viking Inc., listing $237,000 in medical expenses and a projected lifetime loss of income of $1.2 million.

At issue was the design of the southern driveway on the Viking Lumber property off Route 1 in Lincolnville. Howard's attorneys had argued that the driveway was an "accident waiting to happen."

Attorney James O'Connell III had told jurors in his opening statement Sept. 7 that retail businesses have an obligation to follow basic safety rules to protect customers and the public from harm. He said the company knew that the southern driveway on the property was a safety hazard because of a stone wall that reduces the view of traffic coming from the north.

Viking's attorney, Thomas Marjerison, however, had argued that the crash was the fault of the driver of the pickup truck -- Andy O'Brien of Lincolnville -- who pulled out into the path of Howard.

O'Brien's insurance company paid $50,000 six years ago to Howard. The jury was not made aware of that information.

After the verdict, Marjerison said Howard was a good man and he wished him well. The attorney said he would be contacting the Maine Department of Transportation and urging it to do something to make that stretch of road safer.

Jurors were driven to the crash site aboard a bus Sept. 7 to view the location.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014.

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