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$1.2 Million Settlement for Motorist Injured After Tractor-Trailer Collision

Plaintiff filed this Tractor trailer crash case in the United States District Court for The Eastern District of Missouri against Nuckols Brothers Trucking, Inc. Plaintiff was a Missouri resident and Nuckols Brothers was a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Arkansas.

On January 27, 2009, Nuckols Brothers’ driver, Jeffroe Poe, was driving a tractor trailer on southbound Interstate Highway 55 near the South Broadway exit in St. Louis City, Missouri. At the same time, Plaintiff Gary Alvey was driving his 1998 Ford F-150 southbound on Interstate Highway 55 in the lane directly to the right of Poe.

Poe lost control of the tractor trailer and crossed into Plaintiff’s lane, striking Plaintiff’s vehicle, and shoving Plaintiff’s vehicle into another truck. Plaintiff’s vehicle became wedged between the tractor trailer and the other truck and was dragged down the highway.

Plaintiff alleged Nuckols Brothers individually, and through its agents, servants, and employees, at the time of the trucking accident, were engaging in the business of a motor carrier in both intrastate and interstate commerce on Interstate Highway 55 southbound in Saint Louis City, Missouri.

The following paragraphs are allegations set forth in Plaintiff’s Complaint.

Nuckols Brothers was an interstate common carrier, motor carrier, and trucking transport company subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. At the time of the crash, Nuckols Brother’s driver, Jeffroe Poe, was acting as an agent, servant, and employee of Knuckols Brothers and therefore Nuckols Brothers was vicariously liable for Poe’s actions and conduct.

Nuckols Brothers owned, leased, controlled, and/or operated the 2004 International Harvester tractor and trailer that crashed into Plaintiff.

Nuckols Brothers, through its agent, servant, and employee, negligently operated the tractor trailer that caused this crash by:

  1. Failing to ensure they had an adequate line-of-sight of other vehicles;
  2. Failing to keep a proper lookout for warnings, other vehicles and obstructions;
  3. Failing to take proper remedial action which could have avoided the collision or minimized the impact, driving at an, unsafe, excessive and dangerous rate of speed;
  4. Operating the tractor trailer without adequate training and experience;
  5. Failing to have the tractor trailer under proper control;
  6. Failing to stay in the proper lane on the roadway, driving while tired and/or fatigued; and
  7. Operating the tractor trailer too fast for the weather conditions, and operating the tractor trailer over the amount of hours allowed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Nuckols Brothers failed to properly train Poe, and he was not properly qualified to operate the tractor trailer and did not have the required training and experience and was operating in violation of the law. This behavior and conduct was reckless and intentional and showed a complete indifference and conscious disregard for the safety of the motoring public.

Nuckols Brothers owed the general public, including Plaintiff, a duty to properly, diligently and adequately screen potential drivers in order to determine the qualifications of its agents, servants, and employees. This includes:

  1. Adequately evaluating applicants before hiring them as truck drivers and agents, servants, and employees;
  2. Adequately training and supervising said agents, servants and employees; and
  3. Adequately evaluating the employees’ job performance so as to discharge any incompetent or negligent employee before he injured the public or property.

Pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Defendant owed the general public, including the Plaintiff, a duty to determine the qualifications of Poe by:

  1. Adequately evaluating Poe’s performance;
  2. Including thorough training and supervision; and
  3. To discharge Poe or any incompetent or negligent driver before he injured someone.

Nuckols Brothers breached its duty to the general public, including the Plaintiff, by their negligent and careless hiring, training, supervising, and retaining of Poe. He was unqualified, incompetent, and/or negligent and careless at the time of this crash and during the time leading up to this crash. Nuckols Brothers should have known that Poe had numerous recent traffic citations and at least one recent truck accident prior to this crash while operating a tractor trailer.

Nuckols Brothers failed to provide continuing safety courses to their drivers on trucking safety issues.

Nuckols Brothers was Negligent Per Se for violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 392.14 (Hazardous Conditions; extreme caution) which states:

“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.”

Defendant was Negligent Per Se for violating Section 304.012.1., RSMo., which provides as follows:

Every person operating a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.

Plaintiff required neck surgery as a result of this truck crash. The surgery was performed by Dr. Matthew Gornet in St. Louis, MO.

The case was mediated unsuccessfully in May 2011. The highest offer at mediation was $700,000. After mediation the case settled for $1.2 million.

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