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Record $2.25 Million Verdict Awarded by Carteret County Jury

After almost two years and a two-week trial, a Carteret County jury gave closure to the family of Sue Cross. Ms. Cross, who was 57 years old, was tragically killed on November 9, 2012 when a Valley Proteins tanker truck ran over her twice at the intersection of Fort Macon Road and Atlantic Beach Causeway. On September 26, 2014, in the largest verdict ever returned in Carteret County, a jury compensated her husband of 37 years and their two children in the amount of $2,250,000.

Ms. Cross and her husband Robbie owned a home in Atlantic Beach and had both recently retired. That Friday morning, Ms. Cross walked her dog across the intersection returning to their home. Michael Bowden, 21 years old, of Clinton, was driving a tanker truck owned by Valley Proteins, Inc. of Winchester, Virginia. Mr. Bowden turned right on red while Ms. Cross and her dog were about halfway through the marked pedestrian crosswalk with the walk signal. Witnesses report that Ms. Cross attempted to escape the path of the tanker as it was overtaking her. The front tires of the tanker truck ran over her first, and as she was trying to crawl from under the tanker, the rear tires ran over her again.

Ms. Cross was taken to Carteret General Hospital and was later airlifted to New Hanover Regional Hospital, where she died nine hours after being fatally injured. Ms. Cross was a dedicated blood donor, and in their efforts to stabilize her, doctors gave her over 49 units of blood products, the whole supply of blood immediately available. At the hospital, doctors told her husband that Ms. Cross was bleeding from almost every surface in her body.

The defense attorneys tried to blame Ms. Cross for her own death, first arguing that she was crossing against the light, and then resorted to arguing that her dog Lindzee, who survived the accident, pulled Ms. Cross into the intersection. Witnesses, however, confirmed that neither was the case, and the jury determined that Mr. Bowden was negligent in the operation of the 56-foot-long tanker truck that weighed 80,000 pounds. The driver failed to yield to a pedestrian already in a designated crosswalk. A “No Turn On Right” sign for commercial vehicles was posted at that intersection after the tragedy.

Superior Court Judge Ken Crow presided over the two-week trial, at which approximately 15 witnesses testified. The jury deliberated six hours before returning the verdict of $2,250,000 to Mr. Cross and his adult children.