A federal court jury in Louisville, Kentucky awarded $10.4 million to a 25 year old Florida woman and her family for injuries sustained when their SUV pulling a U-Haul International, Inc. tow dolly jackknifed and overturned, rendering the woman paraplegic.
The Burke family was moving from Indianapolis to Florida to start a new life and was driving though Kentucky pulling a 1999 Ford Contour on a 650 pound tow dolly rented from U-Haul when the accident occurred. The woman suffered a crushing injury to her spine when the vehicles fishtailed and overturned.
U-Haul maintained and continues to argue that there is nothing wrong with the tow dolly, and pointed to the woman’s failure to wear a seat belt, but the family’s attorney argued that U-Haul’s rental agreement improperly permits users of the tow dolly to pull vehicles that are too heavy, and that the narrow wheelbase and high center of gravity of an SUV makes it an unsafe combination prone to overturn.
Following the verdict, Christopher Burke, the woman’s husband commented:
“Life before (such an accident) is when you have unlimited possibilities, that you can achieve your dreams … to the extent of your imagination and drive to accomplish. After that day, your life is a life of limitations, daily frustration and pain,” he said.