International Paper Co. recently settled for $5.2 million a lawsuit filed by a woman who lost her arm following an automobile accident. The plaintiff’s car was rear-ended by a car driven by an International Paper employee who was allegedly using her company-issued cell phone. The plaintiff’s lawyer argued that the employee’s use of the cell phone while driving at a cruise-controlled 77 m.p.h. in a 70 m.p.h. zone constituted intentional negligence under Georgia law. According to the article on Law.com:
The employee’s cell phone use had a “huge impact” on the final settlement amount . . .That’s true even though the exact timing of the employee’s cell phone use was never determined.
International Paper contended that the employee was not actually on the phone at the moment the collision occurred . . . The employee testified at deposition that she had used the cell phone just prior to getting on the interstate, and the accident occurred nearly two miles later. A witness, however, testified that he had seen her with the phone to her ear at the time of the collision.
“They were concerned the effect this would have on a jury, to know the driver was on a cell phone” . . .