Jury award spotlights maintenance failures in trucking industry
HOUSTON – A Houston federal jury has awarded a $2.6 million verdict on behalf of a truck driver who suffered serious injuries while working on a poorly maintained tandem trailer owned by Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Corp. (NYSE: SWFT), the largest motor carrier in North America with more than 18,000 tractor-trailers and other big rigs in operation.
Although Swift aggressively denied responsibility and liability for the injuries that truck driver Herbert Willoughby suffered, jurors agreed that the company failed in its obligations to properly maintain its trailer. Mr. Willoughby was represented by trial attorney Wesley Ball of Houston-based Farrar & Ball.
According to evidence presented in trial, Mr. Willoughby was adjusting a tandem unit attached to a trailer at a Houston Home Depot distribution center in June 2012 when the trailer ran over his foot. Mr. Willoughby suffered serious injuries after having more than 50,000 pounds of pressure applied directly on top of his foot.
An independent truck driver, Mr. Willoughby owned his truck but contracted to haul the Swift-owned trailer. The case is Herbert Willoughby and Therese Willoughby v. Jason Cribbs, et al., No. H-13-1091, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Recent analysis by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) underscores the important role that routine maintenance plays in roadway safety. The FMCSA found that maintenance deficiencies on 18-wheelers were contributing factors in nearly 40 percent of large truck crashes on U.S. highways.
“Transportation companies such as Swift too often place profit over safety when it comes to maintenance practices,” says Mr. Ball, trial counsel for Mr. Willoughby. “The life-changing injuries suffered by my client never would have occurred if Swift had performed routine maintenance on its trailers.”
Farrar & Ball, LLP, is dedicated to helping those injured due to corporate neglect. The firm has developed extensive knowledge of tire and vehicle failures, and also represents clients in pharmaceutical tort litigation, product liability claims, personal injury cases and business disputes.