A Hopkins County jury returned a verdict of what will be in excess of $8-million Tuesday in the 62nd District court. The verdict is by far, the largest ever in Hopkins County history. The Plaintiff was represented by Randy Roberts and Mike Ace of The Roberts and Roberts Law Firm in Tyler and by local attorney John C. Ginn of Smith, McDowell, Ginn.
The Plaintiff, Charles Knighton, a Franklin County truck driver, was unloading a feed truck into a hopper train car at the Blacklands Railroad in Mount Vernon, Texas. Evidence showed that the Blacklands conductor gave permission for Knighton to get up on top of the car and then move the train without notice. Knighton suffered horrific injuries, falling over 15ft. and landing on the train coupling between cars. He suffered a pelvic injury with permanent disabling nerve loss and physical impairment among other injuries.
Local attorney Ginn praised both the lead attorneys and the jury. He stated, “First the jury was very attentive and conscientious and second, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Ace did a superb job of presenting what amounted to overwhelming evidence.”
On the first day of evidence, the jury heard testimony from the engineer stating that the conductor did indeed advise him he had given permission to Mr. Knighton to “get up there.” That testimony was in direct contradiction of previous testimony from the conductor. Ginn stated he believed that was a key turning point in the case. “Juries are interested in the truth, and when witnesses are less than honest with them, a jury will exact appropriate justice.”
Ginn said that the verdict also offers some vindication for the Knightons. They have never received an apology or any acknowledgement from Blacklands Rail Road that they improperly moved the train, according to Ginn. He went on to say that the most important thing is that the verdict will go a long way in restoring some of what has been lost by the Plaintiff.
“The jury has given Charles and Misti Knighton a chance to have some normalcy as they try to live out the rest of their lives together under very difficult circumstance,” stated Ginn.