Posted in on October 2, 2017
Cash Settlement—04/08/2016. James M. DeLoach, Jr., et al. v. Total Transportation of Mississippi, et al. State and Superior Courts of Bryan County, Georgia.
During the early morning hours of April 22, 2015, seven Georgia Southern University nursing students, traveling in two vehicles, were on the way to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia for clinical training when a tractor-trailer owned and operated by Defendant Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC slammed into the rear of their vehicles, which were stopped in a long line of traffic on I-16 EB in Bryan County, Georgia. Five of the young women died in the fiery crash. Two young women miraculously survived with severe physical and emotional injuries.
Our firm represented the families of Caitlyn Baggett, Emily Clark, and Abbie DeLoach, three of the young women who died in the crash. We also represented Megan Richards, one of the young women who survived. After thoroughly investigating the cause of the crash, we filed suit in Bryan County, Georgia in an effort to obtain justice for our clients and to determine why this horrific crash occurred.
Through investigative work prior to trial, we were able to prove that the truck driver driving the tractor-trailer that caused this horrible crash should have never been behind the wheel of the truck because of his bad safety record. More specifically, we were able to prove that Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC, which was subject to the control of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, had a hiring rule in place that prohibited any driver who had been in a rollover during the previous three years from being hired.
After filing a separate lawsuit in Texas to obtain records from the truck driver’s prior employer, we obtained records proving that the driver had been recently fired from his prior job as a truck-driver for falling asleep behind the wheel and rolling a tractor-trailer. This information was available to Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC, but Total Transportation ignored it and instead put a dangerous driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. The result of that decision was Johnson again likely fell asleep behind the wheel during the early morning hours of April 22, 2015, taking the lives of five outstanding young women with extremely bright futures ahead of them.
We doggedly pushed this case to trial and had the trial scheduled in less than a year from the time of the wreck. As a result of the information discovered and our clients’ willingness to push these cases to trial, the Defendants and their insurers settled these cases on the eve of trial. The collective settlements exceeded $75 million. The individual settlements are believed to be the highest pre-trial settlements ever paid in individual wrongful death cases in Georgia history.
It was an honor to help these families obtain justice for the death of their daughters. As part of the settlements, we believe Total Transportation will take action to make sure this type of tragedy never happens again, which was a goal of our clients.