Man training for marathon is struck and killed by DUI driver. $20M. Ventura County.

Summary

Woman is high on marijuana and Xanax when she strikes runner on roadway.

The Case

  • Case Name: Prewitt v. Chappell
  • Court and Case Number: Ventura Superior Court / 56-2015-00472997-CU-PO-VTA
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, March 04, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, October 07, 2015
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - vs. Pedestrian, Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Vincent O’Neill
  • Plaintiffs:
    Erin Prewitt, 43, life coach.
    Isabella Prewitt, 12.
  • Defendants:
    Shante Chappell, driver of the vehicle that struck and killed Chris Prewitt.
    Nicole Parker, supplier of marijuana and Xanax to defendant driver.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $20,000,000
  • Economic Damages:

    $2,003,900

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $17,000,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    $996,100

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 14 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Polls: 9-3

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Quirk Law Firm, LLP by Trevor Quirk, Ventura.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Lewis Brisbois by Edward Ward and Judith Steffy, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Okorie Okorocha, toxicology, Pasadena.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Darrell Clardy, toxicology.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Phillip Sidlow, economics, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Weiner, economics, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On April 6, 2014, Christopher Prewitt was jogging on Victoria Avenue in Ventura, training for the Mountains 2 Beach marathon, when he was struck and killed by defendant Shante Chappell. Ms. Chappell admitted smoking marijuana and taking ½ a Xanax prior to the crash. She was charged criminally with gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence. She pled guilty to this offense 10 days after the accident and was sentenced to prison.

    In October 2015, Mr. Prewitt’s wife and minor daughter filed  this wrongful death action against Ms. Chappell and Nicole Parker, who had supplied drugs to Ms. Chappell before the collision. The complaint sought compensatory and punitive damages against Ms. Chappell and against Nicole Parker for violating the Drug Dealer Liability Act. Ms. Parker was defaulted. Ms. Chappell stipulated to liability in the civil case but argued she was not under the influence of intoxicating substances at the time of the crash.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs argued for damages at trial since liability was not at issue.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant admitted liability and contended that plaintiffs' economic damages totaled $2,000,000.  Defendant contended Ms. Chappell was not under the influence of intoxicating substances at the time of the crash.  Further, that punitive damages were not warranted as Ms. Chappell did not act with malice or oppression, had already been punished criminally, and had no ability to pay.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Wrongful death of husband and father.

Additional Notes

Ms. Chappell made an offer of $15,000 (the maximum limit of her auto insurance policy) prior to suit being filed. Plaintiffs each made a 998 demand of $1,000,000 to Ms. Chappell (for a total demand of $2,000,000) in August 2016. At trial, plaintiffs asked the jury to award a total of $125 million in damages.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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