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David Krempels: At the End of a Nightmare

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In 1992, David incurred a traumatic brain injury in a traffic crash that killed his then-wife. He lived in isolation and poverty for three years, as he slowly recovered from his injuries. Then, he won a multi-million-dollar lawsuit over his accident. With the proceeds, he established a foundation to help brain-injured people in the Portsmouth, NH area. Here's his account of the lawsuit.   


  

There were three defendants: the Maine Turnpike Authority, the Ryder Truck company (which owned the truck), and the driver. The defendants were confident -- so much so that they rejected a modest settlement offer from Krempels' attorneys. The trial came in 1995, and lasted an entire month: "An unbelievable memory, a nightmare, a drama."

And a bit of Keystone Kops. "The trial consisted of the truck company attorneys saying, 'This is really too bad, it's not our fault, it's the Turnpike's fault.' And the Turnpike saying it was the truck driver's fault. So really for the entire trial, the defendants beat up on each other, and we kind of sat back and let them fight it out. 

 

The conclusion of the trial was a moment out of a TV courtroom. "The judge said, Has the jury reached a verdict?'

"'Yes, we have.'

"So they read the verdict, which was like ten and a half frickin' million dollars!  And my lawyers fell down on the table and cried, they were sobbing, it was unbelievable." 

Krempels himself? "I didn't feel a lot. It was sort of like I was watching this in a movie." 

 

And just like that: from the poorhouse to the penthouse. Well, actually, he went back to his duplex. And unlike many of the instant rich, Krempels handled it well. After legal fees, taxes, and old bills, he cleared about "five mill."

He chuckles. "That's how we talk about it, us rich people. We say 'five mill.' Oh, God." 

 

 

Krempels' entire story is in my book, including his years of struggle after the accident, and how his father's values shaped his decision to start the Krempels Foundation.

 

Also, an extended excerpt from my 2002 interview with Krempels can be found here.

Contact me at john (at) johnswalters (dot) com.