Boone County Jury Awards $159 Million in Landmark Verdict for Woman Catastrophically Injured in Crash

Whitestown, Indiana – A Boone County jury has awarded a woman and her husband an astounding $159 million after the woman suffered life-altering injuries in a car crash that occurred in 2020. The verdict, reached on January 11 in Boone Superior Court, is believed to be one of the largest jury awards of its kind in Indiana. The case, titled Sherry Schnee and David Mark Schnee v. Ryann Early, 06D01-2101-CT-000003, highlighted the devastating consequences of the collision and the need for justice.

Lead counsel Ann Marie Waldron of Waldron Tate Bowen Land LLC expressed her satisfaction with the verdict, stating, “I was hoping for a huge verdict. Our clients deserved it.” The case unfolded as court records revealed that on October 18, 2020, Schnee and Early were driving on Albert S. White Drive in Whitestown. Despite exceeding the speed limit of 40 miles per hour and driving in a no passing zone, Early moved into oncoming traffic while approaching a curve in the road. The collision occurred when Early’s truck struck Schnee’s vehicle head-on, with Early traveling at about 79 miles per hour.

The catastrophic nature of the accident became evident as it was discovered that Early’s blood alcohol concentration was nearly double the legal limit of .08%. Schnee, who was airlifted to the hospital, suffered a broken neck. The collision resulted in her becoming a quadriplegic, leaving her with no feeling below her armpits. The Schnees filed a civil case in January 2021, seeking justice for the permanent impact the accident had on their lives.

In a separate criminal case, Early was convicted in December 2022 of causing catastrophic injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was sentenced to six years in the Indiana Department of Correction, followed by four years of probation. Although Early appealed his conviction, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed the decision, reaffirming the evidence of his guilt. Early’s subsequent petition to transfer the case to the Indiana Supreme Court was denied.

The trial also highlighted the collaborative efforts of the legal team representing the Schnees. Alongside lead counsel Ann Marie Waldron, attorneys Katie Piscione, Brandon Tate, Michael Simmons, and Hannah Brady provided support and advocated for the couple. Their testimony shed light on the ongoing challenges faced by Schnee due to her injuries and the profound impact on their daily lives.

Addressing the outcome, Benjamin Stevenson of Threlkeld & Stevenson, counsel for Early, acknowledged the severity of Schnee’s injuries and expressed remorse for the tragic event. Stevenson mentioned his lack of plans to appeal the jury’s award, acknowledging the rightful compensation the Schnees received.

Through this trial, the story of Sherry Schnee and her husband resonated with the jury members, resulting in a substantial verdict that reflects the immense impact the accident had on their lives. The jury’s decision serves as a reminder of the importance of accountability and justice in the face of life-altering events.