Two Arizona Superior Court cases tied for 9th place in the list of the top 10 largest Arizona court judgments of 2009. The other case is Herman Martinez and Romelia Martinez vs. Desert Sky Esplanade, LLC, and Michael Manzutto.

The $5 million case of Randolph Groom v. Roger Clyne and Susan Clyne arose from an accident between a vehicle with a cattle trailer driven by Roger Clyne and a motorcycle driven by Randolph Groom in 2005.  Groom was behind the Roger Clyne’s trailer when it turned left and Groom ran into the side of the trailer.  There was evidence that the trailer’s lights were not on and neither was the headlight of the motorcycle.  Groom’s blood tested positive for the presence of marijuana and methamphetamine.

Randolph was not wearing a helmet.  He suffered severe brain damage and multiple orthopedic injuries.  The jury found that Groom sustained damages equal to $5 million, but Roger Clyne was liable only for 75% of that amount because Groom was responsible for 25% of the harm he suffered.

The plaintiff argued that Susan Clyne should be liable, but the jury found that she was not liable because her son Roger was operating the vehicle for his personal business.  If Susan Clyne was named as a defendant because she was the owner of the vehicle she got lucky.  When a car is owned by Person A and Person B is driving the car and causes and accident that kills or injures one or more people and/or destroys or damages property, most of the time Person A (the vehicle owner) is named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Person B (the driver).  This is why people who own vehicles that are driven by other people should form an Arizona LLC and transfer title to the vehicle to the LLC.

For more on using a vehicle LLC for asset protection, see my article called “When to Use a Vehicle LLC for Asset Protection.”

The case is Randolph Groom v. Roger Clyne and Susan Clyne, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case Number 2006-0051.