Teen awarded personal injury settlement, half goes to lawyers

David Yates Jul. 29, 2009, 2:22pm

After a year of litigation, Coca-Cola has settled a suit in which the soda company was blamed for failing to reduce the risk of delivering soda.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported last June, Gwen Deal filed suit against Coca-Cola on her 16-year-old daughter's behalf, claiming one of the company's delivery men rolled a dolly over the girl's foot.

On July 29, Coca-Cola agreed to a settlement. Of the $6,000 awarded to the plaintiff, nearly half will go towards attorney's fees and court costs.

Court papers show Deal's daughter, Kimberly, was shopping at the Beaumont Wal-Mart two years ago when a Coca-Cola employee pushed a dolly loaded with soda over her foot, "resulting in injuries and damages."

During the settlement hearing in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court, Deal testified that she wasn't with her daughter at the time of the incident, but that Kimberly had returned home complaining of pain in her foot.

Deal also testified that she plans on using her daughter's portion of the settlement, $3,700, to pay for her tuition when Kimberly enrolls at Lamar University next semester.

In her suit, Deal had claimed Coca-Cola had a duty to "protect the general public" from the "dangers" of making soda deliveries.

Deal's suit was filed June 9, 2008, in the Jefferson County District Court and she denied any contributory negligence on her daughter's behalf.

"Defendant knew of the danger of pushing a loaded dolly near the general public," the suit says. "Defendant failed to exercise ordinary care to reduce or eliminate the risk."

Deal was represented by Tom Oxford, attorney for the Waldman Smallwood law firm.

Coca-Cola was represented by attorney Peter Bambace.

Case No. D181-885

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