United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
WENDY G. CARROLL, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF THOMAS ANTHONY CARROLL, DECEASED, Plaintiff,
OAKLEY TRUCKING, INC., AND THAD AUSTIN PITTMAN, Defendants.
EARL BRITT SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion to
approve the settlement of this wrongful death action brought
as the result of the death of Thomas Anthony Carroll
(“Carroll”). (DE # 84.) The court held a hearing
on 3 December 2019 to determine the fairness, reasonableness,
and adequacy of the settlement agreement and accompanying
attorneys' fees. Defendants consent to the settlement
agreement. (See DE # 87.) All parties consent to the
entry of this order. (See DE # 86.)
case arises out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred on
4 May 2016 at Case Farms Feed Mill (“Case Farms”)
in Mount Olive, North Carolina, where Carroll, deceased, was
an employee and where defendant Thad Pittman had delivered a
load of salt that day. As the two men were leaving Case
Farms, defendant Pittman's tractor-trailer collided with
Carroll's motorcycle and resulted in Carroll's death.
Carroll left four children as his heirs. At the time of his
death, three of his children were minors. Only one child,
S.C., is now a minor.
Wendy G. Carroll, as Administrator of Carroll's Estate,
instituted this action to recover damages for the wrongful
death of Carroll.
parties to this action are properly represented and before
the court. No. questions exist as to the misjoinder or
nonjoinder of parties. This court has jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the action as well as the parties.
Wendy G. Carroll, mother of the minor, was appointed by this
court as Guardian Ad Litem for the minor child. (DE # 83.)
After a three-day bench trial in November 2018, this court
entered judgment awarding plaintiff $1, 551, 767 plus
prejudgment interest of 8%, for a total amount of $1, 774,
293.25, including recoverable costs. (See DE # 61.)
Defendants appealed the verdict and judgment. (DE # 62.)
After both parties briefed the case on appeal, the parties
reached a settlement agreement in the amount of $1, 425, 000.
The specific terms of this agreement are set forth in the
Settlement Agreement and Release, (DE # 87), and incorporated
herein by reference.
matter is now before the court for approval pursuant to Local
Civil Rule 17.1 and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-13-3(a)(23).
Plaintiff retained Leonard Jernigan and Kristina Thompson of
The Jernigan Law Firm and Guy W. Crabtree of Crabtree
Carpenter, PLLC (collectively “attorneys”) to
represent the Estate in this action.
Attorneys represented the Estate on a contingent fee basis,
plus litigation-related costs. A copy of that fee agreement
is attached to plaintiff's motion. (DE # 84-5.)
fee agreement provides, in part, that the contingent attorney
fee charged for attorneys' representation of the Estate
would be as follows:
A fee equal to 25% of the gross recovery (including costs and
liens) received if the case is settled within 120 days of the
date of this agreement [which was September 8, 2016]; or
A fee of 33.33% of the gross recovery (including costs and
liens) if the case is settled thereafter and no later than
one week after the mediated settlement conference; or
A fee of 40% of the gross recovery (including costs and
liens) if the case is resolved by settlement or verdict at
any time thereafter; or
A fee equal to 45% of the gross recovery (including costs and
liens) if an appeal is taken from the lower court by any
party, or if any legal action after judgment has to be
brought to collect the judgment or any portion thereof, or a
second trial is necessary.
Attorneys have advanced litigation-related costs of $105,
154.28 in this matter.
aid in the prosecution of the case, attorneys retained the
accident reconstruction firm Accident Research Specialist
Cary, N.C., to assist in the investigation of the collision,
consult with attorneys, prepare computer simulations and
exhibits, and offer expert testimony concerning the accident
at both deposition and trial.
breakdown of the costs advanced in this matter by Crabtree
Carpenter, PLLC and those advanced by The Jernigan Law Firm
are attached to plaintiff's motion. (DE ## 84-3, 84-4.)
litigation expenses were reasonable and necessary for the
proper prosecution of this matter.
Attorneys submitted affidavits addressing, among other
things, their efforts on behalf of plaintiff in this matter