Not over: Both sides appeal in Lester v. Allied Concrete

The lawsuit that resulted in one of the largest wrongful death jury awards in Virginia has been appealed– by both sides.

Plaintiff Isaiah Lester, widower of 25-year-old Jessica Scott Lester, who died when an Allied Concrete truck rolled onto her car in 2007, saw his $8.6 million award slashed by $4.1 million by a judge, who also sanctioned him for $180,000 for destroying evidence. Also punished was attorney Matt Murray who was hit with a $542,000 sanction. Murray represented Lester but then resigned abruptly in July from Allen & Allen after the defense accused him of misconduct.

The insurance company for Allied Concrete, which asked for over $900,000 in sanctions against Lester and Murray for the removal of a Facebook photo of Lester wearing an "I [heart] hot moms" t-shirt, apparently wasn't happy with the reduced award and sanctions either, and its attorneys filed an appeal November 17 as well.

Nor was a juror on the case happy when Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire reduced Lester's award, calling it "so excessive on its face as to suggest that it was motivated by bias, sympathy, passion or prejudice rather than by fair and objective consideration of the evidence."

Juror Margaret Gardiner chastised Hogshire in a letter, saying his assumptions about the jury's decision-making were incorrect.

Whether either side will benefit from Gardiner's post-trial opining remains to be seen.

"You'd expect the plaintiff to use it as evidence, but it has to be part of the record," says Hook legal expert David Heilberg. "Just because it's in the file doesn't mean it's part of the record."

Heilberg says he's not surprised both sides are appealing. Attorneys on either side did not return phone calls from the Hook. The appeal goes to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which will decide whether to hear the case.

How typical is it for both sides to appeal?

"It doesn't happen too often," says Chief Deputy Clerk Doug Robelen at the Supreme Court in Richmond. "Sometimes, no one likes how you split the baby."


This sort of thing illustrates the essentially sociopathic nature of corporations. Naked self interest is all that matters and fending off a liability finding is job#1.
These insurance companies figure when the stakes get into millions it's worthwhile going the serial appellate route to wear the plaintiffs down to the point they're happy to be given burial expenses....
What is the replacement value of a young woman to her extended family and what recompense is sufficient when through someone's negligence she is crushed like a Cockroach?

Right on AE ! In all the hubbub about the lawyers misdeeds the true merits of the case have been forgotten.
Corporations own America and the sooner people wake up the better. Government is not longer of the people, for the people , and by the people- it is now for the corporations.

This is appalling! How much should this spouse and her family have to suffer? Accept responsibility Allied... and for the judge to override what the jury thought was fair and reasonable is why this country will always question its judicial system!!!
Side note.. a t-shirt?? really?? i'm speechless!!!

I wish this paper could get there facts straight. Jessica was not crushed and she was the passenger in the car with her husband. I also feel asking the clerk at the Richmond office was very inappropriate.He is not there to express his opinion. His comment was very insensitive talking about splitting a baby....come on.
is he a representative of our supreme court....I hope not. Shame on this writer for continuing to sling hash and publish inacurate facts.

Truth, OK so she wasn't "crushed", but she was killed by the negligence of a driver acting on behalf of his company. He was driving too fast and on the wrong side of the road. Regardless of the wording, she is dead, and Allied is responsible, yet they continue to torture her family by dragging this out for years so they can't move on. I suspect Allied has spent as much in legal fees trying to get out of paying as they should have paid to the husband and family of the woman they killed. So, the lawyers get rich and the victims family gets screwed.

Agree with you real truth. It is just upsetting reading untrue facts like that.

When I said "crushed like a Cockroach" I meant it as a metaphor... and as a metaphor for what happened to her it fits.

Lisa Just wanted you to know the Friday after Thanksgiving we had a family gathering at my home in Richmond.We talked briefly about you and some other fine folks that have to do with this case.No Jessica was not here.She has not been here for thanksgiving since 2006.We Love and miss Jessica.We also Love Isaiah and he is welcome in our home anytime even wearing a t-shirt that may say I Luv hot moms
Jessica you are so pretty!!

Its hard to believe the def's are not satisfied with the Judge's post trial decisions. It cost how much to subpoena facebook? And the Plaintiff's attorney lied to the Judge, lied under oath.