Estate of Christopher Jones v. Southern Tire, Inc.
Okaloosa County Case # 2008-CA-2759
Christopher Jones was traveling to work on Interstate 10 early in the morning in March of 2007. Jones passed over a hill six miles east of Crestview and came upon a large semi tractor tire that he could not avoid. The tire was lying in the inside east bound lane of I-10, and impact with the tire caused Jones air bags to deploy and his truck to swerve out of control towards the South shoulder of I-10. Initially, Plaintiff had no way of knowing who deposited or left the tire in traffic on I-10. The Highway Patrol had closed their investigation. Mr. Higby hired a private investigator, who went to every repair facility 50 miles east and west of the accident scene, and it was ultimately learned that a tractor-trailer for Southern Tire, Inc. out of Mobile, Alabama, had, in fact, encountered a repair very near the accident site. Forensic investigation through expert witnesses established that the tire in possession of the Plaintiffs matched exactly to the tire manufacturer serial numbers on the tires on Southern’s trailer in question. After the depositions of the corporate representatives and driver for Southern were taken, the case settled in excess of Southern Tire’s policy limits.
Estate of Ira Michael Austin v. Coastal Helicopters, Inc.
Bay County Case # 93-1808-CA
Plaintiff’s decedent, Mike Austin, was killed in a helicopter crash involving a Bell 47-G. Coastal Helicopters originally denied they had any liability insurance, but after further investigation, Plaintiff discovered that Coastal did, in fact, have insurance. Plaintiff also brought a claim for punitive damages against the Estate of William Rogers (the pilot), which resulted in disclosure of assets in excess of $1 million. Mr. Higby and attorney Bob Spohrer of Jacksonville retained a metallurgists and aviation expert who discovered the clutch drum on the helicopter was defective and had been machined by non-FAA certified mechanics. The total value of the settlement to decedent’s wife, Melanie Austin, exceeded $2.5 million.
Estate of Teresa Cotter v. Etheridge Cabinet Company
Teresa Cotter was married at common law to Randall Stewart in the State of Texas. They had lived in Florida for over two years, but had never been formally married in the state. Stewart was killed on his motorcycle on Thomas Drive when an Etheridge Cabinet truck pulled in front of him and violated his right of way. Stewart was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but Mr. Higby obtained expert witness testimony that proved that a helmet would have made no difference in the outcome of the accident. Mr. Higby also petitioned the court to recognize Teresa Cotter and Randall Stewart’s common law Texas marriage and have Ms. Cotter appointed personal representative of Stewart’s estate. The case settled for $500,000.00 before suit was filed.
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