Georgia Jury Awards $280M to Family in Fatal Trucking Accident Lawsuit
MUSCOGEE COUNTY, GA. – According to an online news report posted at bizjournals.com, a Georgia jury awarded $280 million to a family from Louisiana in their wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a fatal trucking accident. The verdict might be the highest ever returned against a trucking carrier.*
The accident happened in July 2016 on U.S. Highway 80 in Alabama. A 58-year-old woman from Albany, Louisiana, and four of her relatives were traveling in a 2014 Nissan Rouge on the highway between Ladonia and Crawford, when a truck owned by Schnitzer Southeast trucking company crashed into them head-on. All five of the people in the Nissan were tragically killed, according to the report.
Following the accident, the woman’s husband and daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Schnitzer Southeast and Schnitzer Steel, which operate a metal yard located in Columbus, Georgia. The family filed the suit in Muscogee County, Georgia, alleging that the companies and the driver of the truck were negligent and caused their relatives’ deaths. The suit claimed that the driver of the truck fell asleep at the wheel and crossed over the centerline of the roadway.
In August, the jury on the case awarded the family $280 million in damages, finding that the actions and inactions of the companies led to the tragedy. Schnitzer Southeast has said in a public statement that it planned to appeal the verdict. The driver of the truck is additionally facing criminal charges in connection with the accident, including five counts of homicide, which are still pending in Alabama.
The verdict against Schnitzer might be the largest ever handed down against a trucking company. The next-closest is a $101 million award in a 2018 Texas case against FTS International. The verdict is also the largest on record for the Muscogee County court system.
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