Distracted driving or intoxicated driving is potentially damaging. In this Williamson County case that was settled a few weeks ago, a jury awarded a record-breaking amount in damages to the victim of a hit-and-run in Brentwood that left permanent damage.
Jennifer Carman, who was hit while running on Edmonson Pike in March 2017, and her husband were awarded $13.6 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages by a jury on March 27.
Since the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts started publicly tracking damages in personal injury cases in 2000, Williamson County juries have awarded less than $10 million in the total number of cases over nearly two decades.
On average, that’s about $550,000 in damages awarded annually in personal injury cases. That’s just in cases that go to trial.
In this case, the jury determined that Joshua Kellon, who struck Carman with his pickup truck, and his mother, Dayne Kellon, carried 60 percent and 40 percent of responsibility in the accident, respectively.
Carman was jogging on the shoulder of Edmonson Pike more than two years ago when she was struck from the front by a Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by Kellon, according to an amended lawsuit filed in February 2018.
Kellon allegedly fled from the scene, and police later arrested him at his mother’s house in Brentwood. His truck was at the scene with damage from the collision.
A toxicology report on Kellon’s blood sample the day of the accident tested positive for alprazolam (Xanax) and opiates. The blood results were entered into the court record as evidence.
Kellon’s attorney, Lance Mayes, said Kellon had a prescription from his doctor for the alprazolam.
Carman suffered severe injuries, including multiple facial fractures, leg and ankle fractures and broken bones in both hands. Her thumb needed to be amputated.
According to Brandon Bass, the attorney for the Carman’s, Ms. Carman also lost her right eye as a result.
In addition to thousands of dollars in medical costs, Carman also lost earnings she would have received as a medical doctor.
Kellon pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular assault, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to four years in prison. Two related charges were dismissed.
Damage to Joshua Kellon’s pickup truck after he struck Jennifer Carman while she was jogging on the shoulder of Edmonson Pike in Brentwood in 2017.
Mother also found responsible
While Kellon had a list of previous charges for driving while intoxicated and other drug charges, the Carmans’ attorneys sought to also hold Dayne Kellon partially responsible in the accident.
Kellon lived with his mother and claimed to run a landscaping business from her house, but reported less than $10,000 in personal and business income in 2016. The truck he drove that hit Carman was in his name but required monthly loan payments of $450 between 2014 and 2020.
Dayne Kellon’s financial support of her son, Bass argued, enabled him to maintain and operate the pickup truck he drove at the time of the accident.
“His mother made sure he had a pickup to drive to go wherever he wanted, however, whenever,” Bass said, adding that she made the loan payment on it periodically. “If she didn’t do that, it would’ve been repossessed.”
Lance Mayes, who represented the Kellons in the case, said they “feel like it’s an unjust ruling” and plan to appeal the jury’s decision regarding the mother’s responsibility in the accident.
“He accepted responsibility for it, and his mother wasn’t even in the state of Tennessee at the time of the accident,” Mayes said.
While Kellon may spend the next few years in prison, he would be required to pay damages to the Carmans for the rest of his life, “to whatever extent we can force him to pay,” Bass said, but conceded it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” he’ll ever pay the full amount.
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Portions of this article came from THE TENNESSEAN – written by Elaina Sauber