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Cell Phone Use Leads to $5.2m Verdict Against International Paper

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International Paper Co. agreed to pay a $5.2m settlement with a widowed mother of four who lost an arm in a crash with an International Paper employee who was allegedly talking on her company cell phone at the time of the accident. Debra Ford was rear-ended by by Vanessa McGrogan on Interstate 16, causing her car to run off the road and overturn, crushing her arm between the car and the pavement as her vehicle slid along the side of the highway. Doctors were forced to amputate Ford’s arm almost up to the shoulder.

International Paper had made an initial settlement offer of $750,000, and indicated it was willing to go up to $2.5 million, but Ford rejected. The final settlement was heavily influenced by the effect cell phone usage could have on a jury, said Ford’s lawyer.

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