March 9, 2012
Deborah Kropp versus Coca Cola
After a week of trial, an Alachua County jury entered a total verdict of over $1 Million in favor of Gainesville resident, Deborah Kropp, stemming from an automobile wreck that occurred July 20, 2007. Her attorney was John M. Phillips of Jacksonville, Florida.
“It was years of David versus Goliath. We had to fight for everything and they had 5 different lawyers working on the case. Despite it being a rearcollision, they asked questions about things like tire wear. Misrepresentations were made during discovery, including a failure to disclose who did repair work on the Coca-Cola vehicle and failure to provide repair records until weeks before trial, almost two years after they were requested. “She was victimized in a wreck, then victimized by their doctor who said she was “faking it,” despite admitting she had permanent injuries and chronic pain stemming from the wreck.” said John Phillips.
The case involved a wreck on County Road 225. Coca-Cola admitted it was understaffed and a convenience store was running out of product. They asked a warehouse worker, with little prior driving experience and a negative driving and criminal history to run product to the store. As he was returning, he saw the Kropp vehicle from about 300 feet. He failed to slow or stop until about 150 feet, leaving 140 feet of skid marks according to the Police Report. Worse still, as the driver slammed on the brakes, an unsecured toolbox slid onto the accelerator, nullifying the driver’s attempts to stop the vehicle. Mrs. Kropp’s car was hit from behind and launched into the air. The driver was cited for careless driving.
At 55 mph, you travel 60 feet in 3/4 second or about 81 feet per second. The distance traveled from the time your brain tells your foot to move from the accelerator until your foot is actually pushing the brake pedal. The average driver has a reaction time of 3/4 second. This accounts for an additional 60 feet traveled at 55 mph. It would have taken him well over 140-160 feet to stop.
She ultimately underwent 3 surgeries and has been recommended three more. Medical bills totaled over $250,000. “Coca-Cola called a few days before trial and raised their offer from $35,000 to $75,000. We declined as we literally were on the steps of the Courthouse walking in for hearing on two separate motions seeking sanctions from Coca-Cola and its counsel. It was yet another insult on top of cumulative injuries to say the least,” said Phillips.
“When someone breaks your fishing rod and says he is sorry, they might be accepting blame. But when he says ‘I am sorry’ and gives you a new fishing rod, that is accepting responsibility. Coke did neither. They used unlimited resources to try and prove they didn’t break it or make the owner give up on pursuing it. I don’t give up,” commented Phillips.