Motor Vehicle Crash ends in $35,095,301 Judgment

On September 9th, 2012 Nathan Worstell, was driving his parents’ automobile on Highway 63, one mile north of La Plata, Missouri. At that time, Sgts. Sanborn and Lopez, both decorated Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans (then assigned to the elite U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team), were performing their daily physical training by bicycling on the shoulder of that highway.

Worstell allowed the vehicle he was driving to cross onto the shoulder and strike Sgt. Sanborn, who then crashed into Sgt. Lopez. The soldiers were transported to University Hospital where Sgt. Sanborn’s severed spinal cord was diagnosed. He is permanently paraplegic.

Worstell pled guilty to Careless and Imprudent Driving. Worstell had non-owned auto coverage under two operator’s policies; one with Progress live the other with United Fire. The plaintiffs offered to settle with Worstell if both carriers paid the limits provided by those policies. Progressive accepted their offer. United Fire refused to pay the stated limit of its policy, citing an exclusion not authorized by the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law; and it further declined to offer even the statutorily mandated $25,000. After Progressive paid its limits, it tendered Worstell’s defense to United Fire, which then refused to defend him. The matter proceeded to trial and judgments totaling, $35,095,301.00 were entered on January 16, 2015.

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