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Jury Awards Millions in Dad’s Death

Tampa Tribune

Almost $4-million went to the truck driver’s children for loss of parental guidance.A Hillsborough county jury has awarded nearly 4-million to the family of a truck driver killed at a train crossing in 89, designating most of the ____ as compensation to his two children for the intangible loss of parental guidance.The family of John Kevin Trimble, 33, sued Amtrak and CSX, the company that owns the railroad ____ and the track itself, in 1992, alleging that the two companies were negligent in the maintenance of the track.

The weeklong trial in Hillsborough Circuit Court ended with four hours of deliberations late Wednesday. Trimble’s children, who are 7 and 9 years old now, were awarded $1.5-million each for the loss of parental guidance and companionship and $475,000 each for the loss of his economic support.

Steve Yerrid, who represented the family, said the award would represent the jury’s attempt to put a value of a parent to his children.

“It’s one of the most significant losses a human being can endure,” Yerrid said. “They give us wings, but they give us our roots, too.”

Trimble, 33, was making a delivery to a business outside of Orlando on Oct. 5, 1989, when his truck stuck straddling the crossing. An Amtrak train traveling about 60 mph stuck his truck, stewing dog food about one-quarter mile down the track.

Amtrak argued that Trimble’s truck had stalled because he didn’t use the proper gear when climbing the grade. Yerrid said the truck became stuck in potholes that should have been filled in.

In the end, the jury found Trimble 70 percent responsible for the accident, which will ultimately cut the net award to his children to about $1.25 million, Yerrid said.

It was not clear late Thursday whether Amtrak will appeal the verdict.

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