Cedar County, MO $ 1.1 Million Settlement


The family of a woman involved in a fatal collision with a tractor-trailer has reached a $1.1 million settlement in their Cedar County wrongful death case against the trucking company.

“Clear liability” on the part of the trucker influences an early settlement, said plaintiffs attorney Denise Henning of Kansas City. And because the decadent was “not a huge wage earner,” Henning noted that the settlement is a “nice recovery” for the family.

On Dec. 21, 2001, Bobbi Hartgrave, 45, was driving a Pontiac Grand Prix westbound on U.S. 51 in rural Cedar County, Michael Wilkins, a driver for Springfield, Mo.-based Robbie Specialized, and was driving a semitrailer East bound on U.S. 54. The two vehicles were involved in a head-on collision, resulting in a fire and Hartgrave’s death.

Hartgrave’s three adult children filed a wrongful death action against Wilkins, Robbie Specialized. Conlan Transport – the truck owner that leased the truck and driver to Robbie Specialized, and O&S Trucking – which dispatched the load on the truck. They claimed that the truck crossed the centerline and traveled into Hartgrave’s lane, causing the collision.

O & S Trucking company and the fatal truck accident with Bobbi Hartgrave

The defendants contended that Hartgrave had been traveling in the truck’s lane. They claimed that the truck had to swerve into her lane, attempting to avoid the collision.

During mediation before any experts were named, the parties settled for $1.1 million.

“The severity of the accident caused Robbie Specialized to reach an early settlement by paying its limits of $1 million,” said Tom Buchanan of Kansas City, attorney for O&S Trucking. “The minimal evidence against O&S resulting in a settlement of $100,000 with O&S which carried a $2 million insurance policy.”

Mike Kirkham of Kansas City, attorney for Robbie Specialized, Conlan Transport and Wilkins, noted that his clients did not admit liability or believe that a jury would find any aggravated liability if the case went to trial. “It just made sense to resolve the case early on, before any additional expense was incurred,” he said.