A Fayette County jury decided unanimously on Thursday to award more than $97.7 million in damages to a man who was hit by an SUV outside The Beer Trappe in 2014.
Noel Espino was standing on the sidewalk outside the Euclid Avenue bar on Sept. 19, 2014 when an SUV backed into him, resulting in the amputation of his left leg and several other serious injuries. The SUV also crashed through the front of the bar.
Jarad McCargo, who was a Lexington probationary firefighter at the time of the crash, testified at trial in 2015 that he was the one driving the SUV. He was fired shortly after the crash.
McCargo was convicted on Sept. 24, 2015, of first-degree assault, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, criminal mischief, failure to maintain insurance and two counts of misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In 2015, Espino’s attorneys, Cory Erdmann and Joe Savage filed a lawsuit against McCargo and his wife, Denise.
Espino, an Army National Guard captain, was in the hospital for months following the crash and testified at McCargo’s criminal trial that the pain was so intense that he’d wished he were dead. He had to spend about 10 months receiving inpatient or daily outpatient care and has had to go through additional treatments and therapy since then.
Espino and his wife, Rose, lived a nearly idyllic life before the crash, Erdmann said.
“It was a very nice life for a very nice family, and this absolutely destroyed it,” Erdmann said.
Until recently, Noel and Rose Espino had been living in a Fisher House in Palo Alto, Erdman said. The Fisher House organization provides lodging for families of patients receiving medical care at major military or VA medical centers.
In their verdict on Thursday, the Fayette County jury called for a total of $97,796,617.30 in medical, monetary and punitive damages to be paid in the case against Jarad McCargo and his wife. Of that amount, $10 million would be awarded to Rose Espino, according to the verdict.
The Espino family and their attorneys realize that they will likely never be able to get the amount awarded in the civil suit, Erdmann said. There are a few ways the attorneys can try to get a portion of the money and those will be explored now that the verdict has been reached.
If Noel and Rose Espino are able to get any of the money from the lawsuit, they have said they would like to put it toward organizations that helps amputees, Erdmann said.
The jury also said in its verdict on Thursday that it believed Jarad McCargo held 95 percent of the fault in the case and that Denise McCargo held 5 percent of the fault. Denise McCargo, who was never charged criminally in the case, had switched places with Jarad McCargo so that he could parallel park for her when the crash occurred, according to testimony during the 2015 criminal trial.
Jarad McCargo drove away after the crash, his wife testified at trial. Police reported that they found him behind trash cans on Yellowstone Parkway a short time later.