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Va. Supreme Court upholds $8M verdict

The Supreme Court of Virginia has let stand an $8 million verdict for the family of a high school senior who was killed in a car wreck in Fairfax County in September 2002.

The court heard arguments last month in Mongold v. Chu, Record No. 061390, and concluded in an unpublished order on Friday that there was no reversible error in the case.

David Chu was a passenger in a car that had stopped at a stoplight when the driver of truck owned Danella Companies Inc., a Pennsylvania based trucking company, fell asleep and crashed into the rear end of the teenagers’ vehicle.

The company admitted liability to ward off testimony that its policies almost guaranteed sleep deprivation and fatigue in its employees. Its principal argument on appeal was that the Chu family’s attorney, Gregory L. Murphy of Alexandria, had insisted on presenting such evidence, even though it was irrelevant and highly prejudicial to the company.

The Supreme Court held, however, that the trial judge struck a proper balance between evidence that was probative of the family’s level of grief and testimony that was unduly prejudicial.

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