Man struck by a truck awarded $1.95 million

July 26, 2008|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,Sun reporter

An Anne Arundel County jury has awarded $1.95 million to a man struck and injured by a cement-mixer truck in April 2005 while working on his disabled vehicle on the shoulder of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

The $1.83 million portion of the judgment awarded for pain and suffering will be capped at $650,000, the legal limit in Maryland at the time of the accident.

The accident left Robert L. Howard, the driver of a truck for Goodwill Industries, with a severe injury to his arm and killed his assistant, Errol Johnson, 44. The pair were standing by their disabled vehicle on the northbound side of the parkway near the Baltimore Beltway when they were hit by a cement mixer driven by Richard Anthony Schulman for Lafarge Mid-Atlantic.

Schulman and Lafarge reached a settlement with Johnson's family in March.

The case made headlines because the driver of the cement mixer left the scene. Schulman, now 49, has a long criminal record, including drug and theft convictions. He said after the accident that he was not aware he had hit anyone until he saw the news.

Howard's lawyer, Alan J. Belsky, said court testimony had Schulman pulling over to inspect his vehicle before backing up for a quarter-mile and crossing over three lanes of traffic to turn around and head south, passing the two bodies in the road.

The attorney representing Schulman and Lafarge, Joseph F. Zauner III, said three eyewitnesses testified in court that Schulman never drove out of his lane when he hit the men, making it plausible he did not realize what he had done. Schulman was charged with leaving the scene, but not with more serious charges involving hitting the men.

In traffic court, Zauner said, Schulman pleaded guilty to one count of negligent driving.

Zauner said his clients have not decided whether to appeal.

Belsky said Howard, now 56, lost 70 percent of the use of his left arm and has suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

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