Friday, March 03, 2000

Jury awards family $65M in '98 crash

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Lawrenceburg woman whose husband was paralyzed and blinded in a 1998 wreck says the $65.65 million awarded by a Hamilton County jury is a hollow victory.

        “We are very happy with the verdict,” said Keith Theobald's wife, Jackie Theobald, 38. “I think it validates the extent of his injuries. We are still in for a huge legal battle. The judge has not signed the order yet.”

        The verdict was handed down last week after a four-day trial before Magistrate Richard Bernat.

        Mrs. Theobald said the large award does not remove pain and suffering of her family, which is prepared for the appeals process to drag on for years.

        “The chances are we will never see most of the money,” she said. “The amount of money really doesn't tell the whole story. It's not like you can enjoy $65 million when you are blind in a wheelchair. You can't see your children, the home you live in.”

        Mr. Theobald, 39, is the father of a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old.

        The next step in the case will be a hearing before Common Pleas Judge Fred J. Cartolano, who has been asked to dismiss part of the verdict, said the family's attorney, Douglas C. Holland of Lawrenceburg.

        He expects the hearing to take place in the next two weeks.

        Defendants paying the multimillion-dollar verdict include the owners, drivers and the companies that insured the vehicles involved in the wreck.

        “The worst problem has been with Keith's own insurance company,” Auto-Owners Insurance, Mr. Holland said. “... They have done everything to keep from paying.”

        On Oct. 23, 1998, Mr. Theobald was driving west on Interstate 275 near Montgomery Road when an 87-year-old man hit a car parked in the emergency lane.

        Mr. Holland said he thinks the man moved into the emergency lane thinking it was an exit ramp and didn't realize there was an abandoned car there. He said the resulting impact started a chain reaction involving a tractor-trailer and Mr. Theobald's pickup.


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