Paralyzed truck driver awarded $25 million from bad faith suitPosted On: Feb. 19, 2015 12:00 AM CST
A former truck driver who was paralyzed on the job has been awarded $25 million in punitive damages and $284,000 in compensatory damages by a Pottawattamie County, Iowa, jury.
Toby Thornton drove a tractor-trailer for Monona, Iowa-based Clayton County Recycling until he was involved in a rollover motor vehicle accident on June, 25, 2009 that left him paralyzed from the chest down, according to court records.
The Pottawattamie County jury awarded Mr. Thornton $25 million in punitive damages and $284,000 in compensatory damages in a Feb. 11 verdict after finding that Clayton County Recycling's workers compensation insurer, American Interstate Insurance, acted in bad faith, said Karen Keeler, an attorney for Mr. Thornton and an associate at law firm Erickson and Sederstrom in Omaha, Nebraska.
Despite accepting Mr. Thornton's injury as compensable, Clayton County Recycling and American Interstate Insurance delayed paying medical benefits and denied permanent total disability benefits, according to a court brief filed on Mr. Thornton's behalf.
In 2012, Mr. Thornton filed a petition with the Iowa workers' compensation commissioner to establish that he was permanently and totally disabled, the brief said. And in 2013 he filed for a partial commutation, or a lump sum payment, of benefits, which was awarded in May 2014.
After two workers comp trials were held in Pottawattamie County, the bad faith action was filed, Ms. Keeler said, adding that she wouldn't be surprised if there's an appeal.
Attorneys for Clayton County Recycling and American Interstate Insurance could not immediately be reached for comment.