Alachua County

(2) PAT DOUGHERY and ANITA FORESTER, as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Abigail Dougherty vs. WCA OF FLORIDA, LLC (Circuit Court of Alachua County, 8th Judicial Circuit, Florida)

County/Docket #/Judge: Alachua / 01-17-CA-1288 / Monica Brasington

Plaintiff(s) Attorney(s): W. Cort Frohlich, Chris Frohlich, and Brian M. Beason of Frohlich, Gordon, et al., Port Charlotte, FL

Defendant(s) Attorney(s): Todd R. Ehrenreich, Seth Alhadeff, and Noel F. Johnson of Lewis Brisbois, et al., Coral Gables, FL

Age/Sex/Occupation Of Plaintiff: Abigail Dougherty (decedent): 20 / F / n/a

Cause Of Injury: Wrongful Death/Motor Vehicle Collision/Bicyclist Struck by Garbage Truck. On April 11, 2017, plaintiffs Pat Dougherty and Anita Forester, as personal representatives of the estate of their daughter, Abigail Dougherty, filed a wrongful death suit against defendant WCA of Florida, Inc. They alleged that on Oct. 28, 2016, the decedent, a college student, was riding her bicycle in a dedicated pedestrian/bike lane on NW 17th Street in Gainesville when she was struck by a garbage truck operated by Charles Danzy, an employee of defendant. Plaintiffs claimed that Danzy, who had been attempting to make a right turn onto University Avenue, was negligent in failing to yield the right of way, failing to use his turn signal, failing to keep a proper lookout, making an improper turn into the left-hand lane of University Avenue from the right-hand lane of NW 17th Street, failing to use his side view mirrors and safety monitors so that he did not realize there was a bicyclist to his right, failing to recognize that he had struck someone and therefore not trying to immediately apply his brakes, and failing to operate his vehicle in a safe and prudent manner in an area that was immediately adjacent to the University of Florida and that was known to have high pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Defendant contended that the decedent had herself been negligent in that she failed to acknowledge the truck’s turn signal as she passed it to her right. It also alleged that the decedent was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol at the time of the accident.

Nature Of Injury: Death.

Expert Witnesses:
Plaintiff's:
G. Bryant Buchner, Engineering, Tallahassee, FL
William Robert Sawyer, Ph.D., Toxicology, Sanibel, FL

Defendant's:
Brian Pape, Ph.D., Toxicology, Hudson, NH
Tim Joganich, Biomechanics, Penns Park, PA

Verdict: $25,000,000 for Plaintiffs on Oct. 5, 2018 ($12,500,000 – pain and suffering of Pat Dougherty; $12,500,000 – pain and suffering of Anita Forester).

Editor’s Note: The jury found that defendant was 80% negligent and that the decedent was 20% negligent. It found that the decedent was not under the influence of cocaine and/or alcohol to the extent that her normal faculties were impaired or that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.