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Expanding Automobile Accident Liability due to Cell Phone Use

Posted on May 29, 2012

A Texas jury assessed $11 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages against Coca-Cola for the negligence of one of its marketing executives, which caused serious injury to the plaintiff.  The Coca-Cola employee was on a business call on her hands-free cell phone when she made a left turn.  She thought she had a green turn arrow, but she did not, and she turned directly into on-coming traffic and the vehicle of the plaintiff, who was badly injured.  The attorneys for the plaintiff highlighted the statistics on the dangers of distracted driving due to the use of a cell phone.  Coca-Cola endorsed the use of hands-free cell phones by their employees while driving for work, if necessary.  Presumably, the jury assessed the $10 million in punitive damages due to Coca-Cola's policies.  This should be a wake-up call to companies around the nation that allowing the use of cell phones during transit by their employees could have very expensive consequences. 

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