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Trucking

Poyner Spruill attorneys have extensive trucking litigation experience, from personal injury and wrongful death actions to class action employment litigation. A sampling of these cases follows, which does not reflect all of the cases these lawyers have handled. Please remember that all cases are different, case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case, and past results do not guarantee future success:
  • Defended a motor carrier in a personal injury claim arising out of a collision at an intersection. Plaintiff was the passenger in a car and claimed to be proceeding under a green light at the time of the accident. The Plaintiff suffered from poorly controlled diabetes at the time of the accident, and ultimately had one leg amputated as a result of his injuries. We were able to obtain a very favorable settlement by analyzing the ECM download from the tractor-trailer to support our driver’s testimony that he was braking for a red light heading into the intersection but that the light changed to green several seconds before he reached the intersection. We also raised an effective mitigation argument to the effect that the Plaintiff’s failure to appropriately control his diabetes contributed to the amputation. The case settled at mediation.
  • Defended a motor carrier in a personal injury action filed by a 55 year-old rural mail carrier who was rear-ended by one of the client’s owner-operators at approximately 65 miles per hour. The Plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic in the accident and had medical expenses of approximately $500,000.00. The driver for the owner-operator had a terrible criminal record and driving record, including several felonies and several license suspensions. The Plaintiff pursued multiple theories of liability against the driver, the owner-operator, and the motor carrier. The case resulted in a very substantial settlement at mediation, but we were able to mitigate the motor carrier’s exposure with an argument that the owner-operator was an independent contractor.
  • Defended a motor carrier in a personal injury action filed by a 53 year-old woman who suffered massive internal injuries when a tractor-trailer lost control going down a steep grade in the mountains, rolling on top of the Plaintiff’s passenger truck. Plaintiff incurred medical expenses in of approximately $400,000.00 and was left with very serious, disfiguring injuries. Plaintiff sued the tractor-trailer driver, the owner-operator, the motor carrier, the trailer owner, and the owner of the closed container on the trailer. The case involved significant agency, indemnification, and liability issues between the Defendants. We were able to obtain a contribution from the owner of the trailer after establishing, through a DOT report, that the trailer’s brakes were out of alignment at the time of the accident. The case settled at mediation.
  • Defended a motor carrier in a wrongful death action filed by a couple who’s 16 year-old daughter was killed when our client’s driver ran a red light at an intersection. The client’s driver was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Through early investigation at the accident scene and effective identification and contact with key eyewitnesses, we were able to develop a viable contributory negligence defense in the face of clear negligence on the part of our driver. The case settled in an early mediation after limited discovery.
  • Defended a local recycling company in a personal injury action filed by a 21 year-old man whose legs were crushed in a collision with a tractor-trailer with whom our client had contracted to haul scrap metal. The tractor-trailer driver had a very poor driving record, including a prior “at-fault” fatality. At the time of the accident at issue, he was stopped on a roadway at night without flashers, flares or safety triangles. We established vigorous agency and contributory negligence defenses. We filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the agency issue, and settled the case for a modest amount while the motion was pending.
  • Defended building supply company against a wrongful death action filed by widow whose husband, an IT specialist at a major private university, was killed instantly when a large box truck driven by a company driver swerved to avoid a stopped car, into oncoming traffic, and collided head-on with his Honda Accord. Plaintiff and decedent had a 2-year-old child; she was also about three months away from giving birth to their second child. Our accident investigation revealed that there was a partial brake failure during the accident and, further, that a brake calliper had been installed incorrectly during a recent repair. The repair company was therefore impleaded as a third-party defendant. Through both live and computer-assisted accident simulations, we were able to demonstrate that the brake deficiency influenced the swerve by the truck driver and that the accident would not have been as severe but for the deficient work performed on the brakes. We were successful in obtaining a major contribution from the repair company's insurance carrier to settle the case.
  • Defended building supply company against a personal injury action filed by a 30-year-old construction foreman who was injured in a t-bone collision with a box truck that pulled out of a private driveway into the plaintiff's lane of travel and shortly thereafter underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff. Plaintiff was unable to return to work for over a year following the accident and had significant medical expenses. The case was tried to a verdict in Wilson, North Carolina, a very plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction. Plaintiff sought $500,000 from the jury. The jury found the plaintiff contributorily negligent based on our expert's testimony that he was exceeding the posted speed limit. Although the jury also found "last clear chance," it awarded only $10,000 in damages.
  • Defended building supply company against a personal injury claim after its driver swerved head-on into a vehicle driven by a 55-year-old woman whose right lower leg was amputated and who had numerous surgeries thereafter. The parties agreed to a pre-litigation mediation. During the mediation, it was demonstrated how plaintiff’s $8 million life-care plan contained several elements of duplication and unnecessary expenses. The case settled at mediation.
  • Defended building supply company against a brain injury claim resulting from a piece of lumber that smashed through the plaintiff's vehicle's windshield and into his head. Plaintiff filed a voluntary dismissal early in discovery prior to producing his medical records.
  • Represent a large farmer in Wilson, Greene and Wayne Counties who operates tractor trailer trucks. One of his drivers was delivering large bales of tobacco to a buyer in Wilson. When the driver reached the buyer's facility with the load, a third party opened the rear doors to the trailer, and one of the 750 pound bales of tobacco fell out and struck him, killing him. The case involves questions of state and federal law regarding requirements for securing loads and inspection and loading practices, etc. The case is now pending in Wilson County Superior Court.
  • Represented international grocery chain in several cases involving accidents with their tractor trailer trucks, including wrongful death cases.
  • Represented national transportation company on tractor-trailer accident alleged to have been caused by driver's failure to see plaintiff's vehicle in blind spot. This case was settled..
  • Represented national department store chain on suit by driver for Ft. Worth Carrier, Inc. on dock accident involving tractor-trailer. Plaintiff driver alleged department store was negligent in failing to enforce rule that doors on trailers which were loaded at docks were closed. Driver attempted "drop and hook" in middle of night. He realized the door on the trailer was open and attempted to climb on the trailer to pull the door down and fell. Case settled following mediation.
  • Representation of national trucking firm in a successful defense against OSHA efforts to impose stricter requirements on loading operations with a resulting savings to the client of approximately $1 million per year.
  • Representation of several national and regional trucking firms in administrative actions on over-weight and licensing issues.
  • Representation of a regional trucking firm in negotiations with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide adequate access to a terminal effected by the relocation of a major highway and its conversion to a controlled access facility.
  • Currently representing a global and domestic transportation service company and its subsidiaries in USDC-WDNC action by former logistics and freight forwarding agent, suing for wrongful termination of its agency. Case involves alleged damages in excess of $10 million.
  • We represent several top tier transportation companies with regard to all labor and employment-related matters on a nationwide basis, including litigation defense for all types of claims including class actions, employment discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, whistleblower and any and all other types of employment-related claims, OFCCP/Affirmative Action matters, OSHA matters, union avoidance and defense, administrative employment charges filed with the Department of Labor, OSHA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, VAC and state agencies, preparation, review and advice on company policies and practices, training and overall advice and counsel to employers.
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