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Three generations of a family were killed when a tractor trailer negligently crossed the center line killing 2 children, their mother, grandmother, and their grandmother’s twin sister.
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.
Bert Jessmon v. Greenwich Insurance Company, et al. State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia. On a clear January morning, Bert Jessmon was working at the rear of a garbage truck in Ringgold, Georgia when he was pinned in between the rear of the garbage truck and a vehicle that had been struck by a commercial chipper truck owned and operated by W.A. Kendall & Company, Inc.
Bert’s right leg was mangled and Bert nearly died at the scene. A helicopter flew Bert to a Level 1 trauma center where doctors amputated his right leg and performed numerous surgeries on his left leg. Although he survived, Bert will have to periodically purchase and wear an expensive prosthetic leg for the rest of his life. He was in his early thirties when the collision occurred.
The firm zealously pushed Bert’s case forward against W.A. Kendall and its insurance company. We filed the lawsuit two months after the wreck and quickly got to work taking multiple depositions to make sure we could put on the best case possible at trial. The firm’s work ultimately resulted in the Defendants admitting liability for the collision shortly before trial.
The case settled moments before jury selection was set to begin. Rather than risk trial, the defendants’ made the largest settlement offer in American history in a case involving an above-the-knee amputation. It was a pleasure for the firm to represent Bert and his family. We have significant experience handling amputation cases.
Perlotte, et al. v. Harrison Poultry et al., Superior Court of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. On October 15, 2009, an employee of Harrison Poultry was driving a Harrison Poultry tractor-trailer on Georgia Highway 10 in Oglethorpe County. The tractor-trailer drove into the rear of a pick-up truck. The force of the collision threw both the pick-up truck and the tractor-trailer into the oncoming lanes of traffic. All three men in the pick-up were killed in the collision. The Georgia State Patrol found 4 of the 6 brakes on the tractor were out of adjustment and unsafe to be on the road. Less than two months after the lawsuit was filed, the Defendants settled.
Trudy Parker v. FM Logistics, Inc., Alejandro Quinonez, Superior Court of Newton County, Georgia. Trudy Parker was driving to her job on I-20 in the pre-dawn hours of December 15, 2001. Unknown to Ms. Parker, an FM Logistics (“FM”) tractor-trailer, driven by Alejandro Quinonez, had run off the road and overturned. The tractor-trailer rig had come to rest blocking all three lanes of I-20. Ms. Parker was unable to avoid the trailer and debris blocking the road. Upon impact, she sustained serious orthopedic injuries, including permanent impairment to her foot and ankle. Defendant Quinonez was driving overtime in violation of federal regulations and he fell asleep at the wheel. Plaintiffs filed suit seeking compensatory and punitive damages against FM and Quinonez. FM failed to answer plaintiff’s complaint, and the trial court entered default judgment accordingly. Even after default, FM engaged in discovery abuse, which resulted in an award of over $64,000 in fees and expenses in October 2005. The Court held a bench trial on damages in March 2006. Plaintiffs not only offered evidence of Quinonez’s negligence and violation of safety regulations, but also proved FM and its drivers had engaged in a pattern and practice of disregard for federal safety regulations. The Court entered judgment in favor of Ms. Parker and awarded her $350,000 in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages, and $14,689 in final litigation expenses. FM paid the compensatory judgment in full, with interest. FM settled the remainder of the judgment while its appeal was pending.
Cash Settlement – 12/27/2017. Kayla Kummala and Madison Fortier v. Downey Trees, Inc. and Jeremy Ryan Stephens. On July 14, 2015, Ms. Kummala was the driver and Ms. Fortier was the backseat passenger of a car stopped at a red light in Forsyth County. A Downey Trees employee, driving a Downey Trees truck, failed to stop at the red light and hit the back of Ms. Kummala’s car going 67 miles per hour. Ms. Kummala suffered a serious brain injury and spent four days in the intensive care unit. Ms. Fortier was also knocked unconscious and suffered severe physical injuries including the partial amputation of her thumb and multiple facial fractures. Ms. Fortier underwent three surgeries and spent two weeks in Grady Hospital. The striking driver had an extensive bad driving record and was hired in violation of Downey Trees’ company policies. The case settled just prior to trial, with Ms. Kummala and Ms. Fortier recovering the remaining policy limits of Downey Trees’ primary and umbrella insurance policies.
Angela Burns v. JB Trucking, Inc. and Grange Indemnity Insurance Company, State Court of Rockdale County, Georgia. On November 9, 2012, Mrs. Burns, a U.S. army veteran, was seriously injured when her car was T-boned by a large box truck running a red light. The striking driver was fatigued and unqualified to be driving the commercial motor vehicle. The interstate motor carrier that employed the striking driver was aware of his lack of qualifications, poor driving history, and that he was driving for the motor carrier immediately after working through the night at another job. Mrs. Burns suffered memory loss and other injuries as a result of the collision. The firm defeated a summary judgment motion by Defendants attempting to limit the extent of their insurance coverage to an amount well below the statutory minimum. The trial lasted less than two days, and the verdict consisted of $1,750,000 in compensatory damages, $1,500,000 in punitive damages (ultimately reduced to $250,000 by the judge per the statutory cap) and $35,000 in expenses of litigation.
Parrish, et al. v. P & J Trucking, Inc., G and H Logging Co., Inc., et al., State Court of Ware County, Georgia. On April 29, 2010, Ms. Elizabeth Parrish was headed home from a Sunday School dinner party traveling on Corridor Z eastbound toward Waycross, Georgia. As Ms. Parrish crested a hill, a fully loaded logging truck pulled out in front of Ms. Parrish. The driver had been on the job over 14 hours and had just re-fueled at a station in this same area. Although Ms. Parrish attempted to avoid hitting the truck she couldn’t stop in time and the logs on the trailer slammed through the front windshield. The logging truck was in violation of the law due to adequate reflective tape and a required strobe lamp. Without the proper reflective tape and functioning strobe light, the tractor-trailer was virtually impossible for Ms. Parrish to see in time to avoid the collision. Plaintiffs were able to obtain the video surveillance from the station which indisputably proved the strobe light was not functioning prior to the collision. Ms. Parrish ultimately died from the injuries she sustained.
Plaintiff v Anonymous Trucking Company Georgia. Plaintiff was killed when his vehicle was struck by a Tractor-Trailer whose driver was inattentive and going too fast for conditions. Our investigation showed that the truck was negligently maintained, that the driver had a bad driving history, and that the employer had not completed a pre-hiring investigation prior to allowing this driver on the road. The identities of the parties are confidential at defendants’ request
Zalkin v. Navin Enterprises, Inc., et al., The 13 year-old son of plaintiffs was run over after an unoccupied moving truck began rolling downhill towards plaintiffs’ front yard. The truck left the roadway in front of the residence and ran over Michael Zalkin who was airlifted to Scottish Rite Hospital where he died from his injuries. The truck was owned by Navin Enterprises, Inc. who operated the truck as a franchisee of Two Men and A Truck/International, Inc. The truck company paid its policy limits without suit being filed.
Cash Settlement – 9/17/17. Wagner vs. Tony Cook Trucking Co. and Estate of Beck. On February 18, 2016, Mr. Wagner was the front seat passenger in a Toyota Corolla as the driver attempted to turn left at on a highway in Banks County, Georgia. The Corolla was violently struck by a dump truck. The driver of the Corolla was killed in the wreck. An investigation determined that the dump truck had brakes that were out of alignment. Mr. Wagner suffered severe injuries in the wreck, including a life-threatening brain injury that left him in a coma for seven days. The case settled prior to suit being filed, with Mr. Wagner recovering policy limits from the driver of the Corolla, the owner of the Corolla, and the owner of the dump truck.