Coca Cola issued a statement and provided clarification regarding the details of the case where a jury awarded $21 million to Vanice Chatman-Wilson, an individual whose automobile was reportedly struck by a Coca Cola employee driving a company-owned vehicle.
The company said the Coca Cola driver, Araceli Venessa Cabral, was driving a car, not a truck, and worked in a sales role, rather than as a delivery driver, as originally reported by law firm Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys. The original statement by the law firm described the incident as a “trucking accident case involving a distracted delivery driver.” In addition, a Coca Cola spokesperson said the driver was using a hands-free device at the time of the accident, not a cell phone.
Coca Cola said the case was tried because the parties involved couldn’t come to an agreement on damages and that the company has accepted responsibility for the accident. The company also said its cell phone policy requires the use of a hands-free device, which is consistent with, and exceeds, Texas state law requirements.
“There is no discernible connection between the damages awarded in this case and the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Although we respect the verdict of the jury, we plan to appeal.”
In addition, Coca Cola stated that the verdict is in response to the plaintiff’s legal counsel’s request to the jury to ban cell phone use while driving.
By Greg Basich
A new law that will reclassify a first-time offense of texting while driving as a moving violation will go into effect on July 1, 2019 in Illinois and will boost the penalty for violators.