United States District Court, M.D. Alabama
K.J., a minor who sues by and through his mother and next friend, Formeshia Franklin, Plaintiff,
CTW TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC., and GARY S. McCALL, Defendants.
H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
K.J., a 17-year-old, suing by and through his mother, filed
this lawsuit against defendants CTW Transportation Services
and Gary McCall, for injuries he suffered in a car accident
caused by McCall. The jurisdiction of the court has been
invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (diversity of
citizenship). Because this case involves a minor, the parties
have asked that the court approve their proposed settlement.
At a pro ami hearing, the court heard from the parties'
counsel, K.J., his mother, and K.J.'s court-appointed
guardian ad litem. The settlement will be approved.
November 30, 2016, McCall, who was employed by CTW and
driving an 18-wheeler truck, ran a red light. The truck
collided with the vehicle occupied by K.J., who was
hospitalized for a week for his injuries. As a result of the
crash, K.J. suffered a collapsed lung and a traverse process
fracture and required a bowel resection and a colon
resection. At the time of the notice of settlement to the
court, K.J. had made a near-full recovery; no long-term
disability or damage is expected.
law requires that a court hold a fairness hearing before a
minor plaintiff's case may be settled. See Large v.
Hayes By and Through Nesbitt, 534 So.2d 1101, 1105 (Ala.
1998). This is a rule of substantive law, which must be
applied by federal courts sitting in diversity. See Burke
v. Smith, 252 F.3d 1260, 1266 (11th Cir. 2001). In order
for the settlement to be binding on the minor, the hearing
must involve “examination or investigation into the
facts.” Abernathy v. Colbert Cnty. Hosp. Bd.,
388 So.2d 1207, 1209 (Ala. 1980) (quoting 42 Am. Jur. 2d
Infants § 47 (1978)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
court, therefore, conducted an in-person, on-the-record
fairness hearing to determine whether to approve the
settlement agreement between K.J. and defendants CTW and
McCall. K.J., his mother, his father, the guardian ad litem,
and counsel for both parties were present for the hearing.
The court has reviewed the pleadings in this case, heard in
open court a detailed oral explanation of the positions of
all parties, and is sufficiently familiar with the background
surrounding this action, including the guardian ad
litem's assessment of the strength of K.J.'s case and
the likely outcome at trial.
settlement agreement can be summarized as follows:
K.J. will receive a monetary award in the amount of $ 600,
5, 000.00 shall be paid directly to K.J. through his mother.
Said funds shall be used for the health, support, education,
and/or maintenance of K.J. pursuant to §
26-2A-6(a)(3)(c) of the 1975 Ala. Code.
K.J.'s counsel, Doug Dellaccio, shall hold in his client
trust account $ 20, 000.00 for the purchase of a vehicle.
K.J.'s mother's driver's license is suspended due
to unpaid tickets. Dellaccio has agreed to assist her having
these tickets satisfied and having her driver's license
reinstated. K.J. will not purchase a vehicle unless his
mother has secured a valid driver's license. Dellaccio
shall disburse funds directly to the automobile dealership
and directly to Montgomery County Probate Court for tags and
registration. He shall also disburse directly to the
automobile insurance company funds sufficient to maintain
comprehensive insurance coverage on the vehicle until K.J.
turns 19 and is thereafter able to maintain insurance
coverage on his own. K.J.'s counsel shall provide the
guardian ad litem, Attorney Karen Laneaux, a copy of the
mother's valid driver's license, the automobile bill
of sale, automobile insurance quotes and any other documents
instrumental towards the vehicle purchase. Should the mother
fail to secure a valid driver's license prior to
K.J.'s 19th birthday, K.J.'s counsel shall release
the $ 20, 000.00 directly to K.J. on his 19th birthday.
structured annuity with a cost of $ 328, 844.06 shall be
purchased by the insurer, Northland Insurance Company, on
behalf of the CTW and McCall for the benefit of K.J., as
fully described in Exhibit A attached hereto.
and McCall may satisfy this settlement by paying the
respective portion of said funds, other than the funds to
purchase the structured annuity, to Dellaccio, as set forth
above and pursuant to the terms set forth in the release
entered into between the parties.
Dellaccio is entitled to an attorney's fee in the amount
of $ 240, 000, as well as costs and expenses in the amount of
$ 4, 229.89, which shall be ...