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$1.7 million awarded to man who says truck driver’s train horn caused hearing loss

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A Mississippi jury sided with a man who said that a truck driver’s train horn blast caused him permanent hearing loss.

Mississippi resident Jerry Kelly was awarded $1,787,597 by a jury following a lawsuit brought against Jerry Garland.

On May 4, 2020, both Kelly and Garland were on a job site in Florence, Mississippi, working for commercial asphalt company Adcamp. Kelly was an employee of Adcamp operating as a commercial paver while Garland was driving a truck at the site as an independent contractor for Goodtime Trucking.

According to court documents, Garland believed that Kelly was blocking his path to exit the site, so he sounded the customized train horn affixed to his truck for about 10 seconds while Kelly was six to eight feet away and not wearing ear protection.

The three trumpet train horn was manufactured by Union Pacific and is capable of emitting a 145 decibel sound comparable to a shotgun blast or a jet engine.

Kelly reported intense ear pain and drainage from his ears just after the horn incident. He said that he later experienced more hearing deterioration and permanent hearing loss.

Kelly alleged that Garland was negligent in blowing a horn loud enough to cause injury, especially when he says Garland’s path was not actually blocked.

Garland’s defense team argued that Kelly’s hearing loss was caused by his nearly 30 years working in heavy construction.

Kelly was later diagnosed with an unrelated brain tumor that caused blindness. The combination of blindness and hearing loss means he will probably need a care assistant for the rest of his life.

While the jury awarded Kelly $1.5 million for pain and suffering along with medical care, future expenses, lost wages, and loss of household services, Mississippi tort law caps non-economic damages at $500,000.

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