A $411 million nuclear verdict against single truck company in Florida said to be biggest ever
Story by: John Kingston at FreightWaves
A Florida jury has handed down what is believed to be the biggest nuclear verdict ever against a single trucking company defendant: a $411 million verdict handed down in Florida to a motorcycle driver.
According to local press reports and a prepared statement issued by the attorney for the plaintiff in the case, a jury in a virtual Zoom trial handed down a $411,726,608 verdict in favor of Duane Washington for injuries he received in a 45-vehicle pileup in 2018.
But that’s where the normalcy ends. The case has numerous twists in it that may mean it won’t set firm precedents even if it is likely to set the trucking plaintiffs and defendant’s bar into an uproar.
The facts of the case are this: A motorcycle rider named Duane Washington was part of a 45-car pileup in Florida in 2018. Washington was the plaintiff in the case. The defendant is a single-tractor company named Top Auto Express Trucking Company, based in Pembroke Pines, Florida. According to data on the company in its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration file, it no longer has its authority.
According to a report from Tallahassee television station WCTV, which also covered the crash in 2018, the pileup resulted in 18 crashes and eight hospitalizations. According to its report, “a semi-truck (from) Top Auto Trucking Company tried to avoid a collision, but instead jackknifed and caused the domino effect of crashes.”
A prepared statement released by Washington’s attorney, Ben Crump, following the verdict described what happened next: “Washington attempted to drive his motorcycle onto a median to avoid the pileup and the risk of other vehicles crashing into him – but before he could do so, Washington collided with a stopped truck that had no lights on in the emergency lane. The collision launched Washington into the median and left him with severe, life-threatening injuries.”
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Source and credits: freightwaves.com / John Kingston / iTrucker / Mario Pawlowski
iTrucker / Mario Pawlowski / itrucker.com