A jury in Fauquier, Virginia awarded a $6 million judgment to the family of a 24 year-old woman from Goldvein who was killed by a drunk driver in 2013. It is thought that this is the largest jury award in the history of Fauquier.
The jury of seven deliberated for less than 90 minutes on June 30 before returning the wrongful death lawsuit verdict against Dwayne Baker in Fauquier County Circuit Court.
The DUI victim, Jackyln Bridget Butler, died at approximately 11:20 pm on Aug. 11, 2013 when her vehicle was hit in a head on collision on Route 651.
Baker was passing a tractor trailer on a double yellow line and smashed into Butler’s Honda. The collision was so severe that the woman’s car was driven 150 feet backwards.
Baker tried to claim that he was swerving to avoid a deer, but he also refused a sobriety test and argued with police on the scene. He also would not take a blood test for five hours after the drunk driving crash. When his blood was drawn, it showed less than legal intoxication. At the criminal trial, however, expert witnesses stated that Baker would have been legally drunk at the time of the crash.
Baker was sentenced in the criminal trial to six years in prison. After he gets out of prison, he will have the judgment facing him for life, as his insurance will likely only cover a small amount of the award.
Our hearts go out to the entire family of Ms. Butler. We are Virginia Personal injury lawyers who sue drunk drivers and do not represent them, and we hate the loss of life that drunk drivers cause on Virginia roads. At the same time, we are pleased that the Fauquier jury decided to award such a large amount to the grieving family. Not only will Mr. Baker have to serve six years in prison; he also will face wage garnishment for life for what he did.
One of our attorneys, Ed Booth, once worked a similar drunk driving case where the drunk driver hit his client head on in a grossly irresponsible manner. The innocent woman suffered brain damage, and she broke almost every major bone in her body, and underwent open reduction with internal fixation to all three bones in her right leg, her left femur, left elbow and hipbone. She also suffered a collapsed lung, traumatic pancreatitis, respiratory failure, hemorrhagic shock, internal bleeding and removal of the gallbladder, in addition to other soft tissue injuries.
The victim did not want a settlement. She wanted a trial where seven people from Newport News would decide the case. She won a $3.5 million verdict that will help her partly with her medical expenses due to limited insurance, but the resulting court judgment will hang over the drunk driver for the remainder of his life.