Jury finds no robbery to excuse accident Taxi driver's claim rejected

victim awarded $403,875

August 24, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Sued by the woman whose car he hit head-on, taxi driver Roger E. Estes had an unusual defense: He claimed he was being robbed by a passenger at the time.

But a Baltimore Circuit Court jury didn't let him off the hook yesterday, levying a judgment of more than $800,000 against Estes and the passenger, Clarence Johnson, for injuries suffered by Angelia Moore of Pikesville.

Judge David Ross later reduced Moore's award to $403,875 because of the state's limit on noneconomic damages.

Moore, now 30, was driving in the 4700 block of Reisterstown Road on June 20, 1992, when Estes' cab crossed the yellow line and hit her car. She sustained multiple fractures to the lower half of her body, including both legs, and she suffered substantial memory loss, said her lawyer, Howard Needle. Moore's suit was filed last year.

NTC But Estes testified that it wasn't his fault he plowed into Moore's car -- he claimed he was being robbed at gunpoint by Johnson.

Johnson had a different story: There was no robbery, and it was Estes who began struggling with him.

Johnson, of the 3700 block of Spaulding Ave. in Baltimore, was charged with robbery with a deadly weapon following the accident, but a jury found him innocent in 1993.

Needle said his client may not be able to collect much more than the $25,000 in insurance taxi drivers are required to carry. Ross ruled that the cab company, Citizen Transportation Inc., could not be held responsible for the collision.

"It's really impossible to know what happened in that cab," Needle said.

Lawyer Gilbert Rosenthal, who represented Estes and the taxi company, said he had not yet consulted with his client about an appeal, but considered it likely.

Pub Date: 8/24/96

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