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Jury awards $2M for fatal car crash
Winburns BEST.jpg
Deanna and Johnny Winburn are shown in this photo presented during the wrongful death lawsuit against Asia Smartt, the driver who killed Johnny while intoxicated.

A wrongful death civil lawsuit against Asia Jeanene Smartt ended Thursday with a judgment of $2 million against her for a deadly motor vehicle accident in 2017.

Smartt caused the death of Johnny Winburn, 75, and injured his wife, Deanna, on Dec. 21 while driving intoxicated. A blood test showed meth in her system. 

The Winburns were traveling outbound on the bypass in the area of Angel’s Bridge when Smartt, traveling inbound, crossed the median and collided with their vehicle. 

A nine-woman, three-man jury awarded Mrs. Winburn $1 million for the loss of her husband, $750,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress, $250,000 for future pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and $50,000 for past pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The monetary award came after three days of testimony, most of that emotionally charged. Testimony came from law enforcement first on the scene, who testified to the condition of the Winburns, from Mr. Winburn’s family members, who spoke about his devotion to family and their loss, and from Mrs. Winburn herself.

In his closing argument, attorney Trevor Galligan referred to some of those statements in fighting for the plaintiff.

“You heard from the first officer on the scene,” Galligan said. “He testified that he could hear Mrs. Winburn scream, not for help for herself but for someone to help her husband. You heard him testify about opening the car door and seeing blood flow out. You heard from Mrs. Winburn, who held her husband’s head and how she could feel the blood in her hands.” 

Galligan, who was co-counsel with his father, attorney Michael Galligan, asked the jury to determine what the destruction of a family was worth and referred to statements made by Mrs. Winburn on the stand.

“She said, ‘I don’t care about the money. I really don’t. I don’t care about my injuries. I’m here for someone to tell me that Johnny’s life was worth something. That he mattered.’ Tell her that her husband’s life mattered. Tell her that in Warren County, Tennessee, if someone rips your life apart, it matters.”

Defense attorney Joshua Offutt urged jurors to be fair in their judgment and not to be swayed by emotion.

“Emotions, that’s what this whole thing has been about,” said Offutt. “It has been about bringing out your emotional side. You must base your decision on fact, on the evidence that you heard during this trial. We all agree Asia Smartt caused this accident. That is not in dispute.”

Winburn claimed stress, loss of concentration, mental distress, and nightmares as a result of the accident. 

Offutt disputed those claims, as well as testimony from a psychologist.

“Mrs. Winburn testified that she was blessed financially,” he said. “She could have sought psychological help at any time. Yet, no evaluation in seven months. She went through her attorney. Her attorney paid for that service. It was bought and paid for testimony. It was only done to help her attorney build a claim. Part of the testimony given today was that he expects Mrs. Winburn will suffer PTSD in about two months. That is some gift. I wish I was able to see into the future like that. Bought and paid for testimony.”

Smartt pled guilty to charges of vehicle homicide and vehicular assault and was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail, which she is currently serving.