Patrick Murphy of Marion has resumed his involvement in a $4 million injury suit he filed in federal court after retiring as federal judge.
He entered an appearance on Dec. 30 for Kentucky trucker Robert Hill, who claims he hurt his back in a collision with Pulaski County trucker John Harp.
Murphy filed the suit last April, four months into judicial retirement.
He sought $1 million for Hill’s injuries and $3 million in punitive damages.
He withdrew in May, turning the suit over to wife Patricia Murphy.
She had filed a similar suit for Hill in 2012, at Massac County court in Metropolis.
On Dec. 12, 2013, eleven days after Patrick retired, he appeared with Patricia for a conference on the case with circuit judge Joe Jackson.
The event didn’t go well for Murphy and Murphy, as Jackson decided to let Harp plead that Hill’s negligence contributed to the crash.
The next hearing, last February, went worse. Jackson rejected punitive damages.
On April 21, a day before a deadline for Murphy and Murphy to respond to a request from Harp for admissions, they moved to dismiss the suit.
Jackson dismissed it on April 22.
Patrick filed the federal suit on April 25, without Patricia’s name on it.
He withdrew on May 21, naming her as his substitute.
Now both represent Hill.
On Jan. 5, six days after Patrick returned to the case, he responded to a request from Harp for admissions of fact.
He admitted Hill knew the intersection where the trucks collided and had driven through it 20 times or more.
He also admitted that Hill:
- Knew the distance required to stop his truck at any given speed.
- Knew he was driving in heavy fog.
- Knew he was unable to stop prior to striking Harp’s truck.
- Made no complaint of back pain at the emergency room.
He denied Hill left 486 feet of skid marks and denied Hill told emergency room personnel he estimated the speed of the collision at 40 miles per hour.
Murphy carefully answered a request to admit Hill traveled west but crossed the centerline and struck Harp’s truck in the eastbound lane.
He admitted that, “the passenger side of his tractor collided with the left rear of the tractor trailer combination the defendant was driving, which combination was then blocking both lanes of travel.”
“He further admits that he drove a portion of his tractor into the eastbound lane at the time of the collision as he attempted to avoid the collision,” Murphy wrote.
Magistrate Judge Philip Frazier has set a settlement conference Jan. 23, in Benton.
Chief District Judge Michael Reagan has set trial for July.