Jury awards truck driver $2.6 million in trailer injury suit

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A jury in a Houston-based federal court has found Swift liable in a lawsuit brought by an owner-operator leased to the company who claimed negligent maintenance practices by Swift caused a trailer to run over his foot.

Trucking giant Swift named in lawsuit

The jury awarded the owner-operator, Herbert Willoughby, $2.6 million for physical and mental pain, medical expenses and past and future lost wages.

Though the owner-operator was partly to blame, the jury found, mega-carrier Swift (No. 3 in the CCJ Top 250) was most at fault in a June 2012 accident in which Willoughby was, according to attorney Wesley Ball, “adjusting a tandem unit attached to a trailer … when the trailer ran over his foot.” The trailer, freight included, weighed about 50,000 pounds, said Ball, Willoughby’ attorney, in a press release.

Willoughby brought the suit in 2013, naming, in addition to Swift, Home Depot and fellow Swift driver Jason Cribbs. Home Depot was not part of this settlement, however.

Cribbs, who was driving the truck at the time, failed “to take proper evasive action,” according to court documents, and did not “maintain a proper lookout,” according to Willoughby’s original suit. The trailer in question also was negligently under-maintained, Willoughby claimed, and Swift knew about the problems prior, he says in the suit.

Moreover, Swift was responsible for Cribbs’ actions, the owner-operator claimed.

Court documents do not detail what the alleged maintenance negligence consisted of. Swift, however, denied the claims.

The jury in the civil trial sided with Willoughby, ordering Swift to pay the total $2.6 million, broken down as:

*$500,000 for physical pain and mental anguish in the past

*$300,000 for pain and anguish “sustained in the future”

*$500,000 for past physical impairment

*$300,000 for future physical impairment

*$80,000 for medical expenses,

*$300,000 for future medical expenses

*$150,000 for lost wages

*$450,000 for loss of earning capacity

Request for comment from Swift was not returned before this article’s publication. It will be added if it becomes available.