12th Circuit Court of Appeals at Tyler, Texas, Reviews $4 Million Verdict in Truck Wreck Case

stormy dayThe Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Court of Appeals District at Tyler, Texas, has now made a decision in a truck accident case that we first brought to your attention last summer. The case, which arose as a result of a truck-car accident in Gregg County, resulted in a jury verdict of close to $4 million in late 2015.

The defendants – the owner and driver of a cable “spooling” truck – filed their notice of appeal more than a year ago, seeking relief from the trial court’s order entering judgment upon the jury’s verdict.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the recently decided case were a husband and wife who were traveling along a wet road when a pickup truck in front of them lost control and went into a ditch. The husband, who was driving the plaintiff’s vehicle, applied his brakes. A commercial truck owned by the corporate defendant and driven by its employee (the individual defendant) was traveling behind the plaintiffs. The employee was unable to stop, and the commercial truck struck the plaintiffs’ vehicle.

At trial, the jury found in the plaintiffs’ favor and awarded them substantial compensatory damages, as well as exemplary damages. The defendants appealed.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The defendants argued on appeal that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the pickup truck’s driver was not negligent in causing the accident between the plaintiffs and the commercial truck. The appellate court disagreed with this argument, holding that the jury’s finding was not so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and unjust. In so holding, the court noted that the jury could reasonably have concluded that the commercial truck driver should have anticipated the dangers of driving too fast and following too closely on the wet road where the wreck happened.

The defendants also disagreed with the jury’s finding with regard to the plaintiff’s negligent entrustment claim, arguing that the evidence failed to show that the commercial truck driver was incompetent or reckless. The appellate court agreed with the defendants as to this issue, agreeing that the corporate defendant neither knew nor had reason to know that the commercial truck driver could not competently operate the vehicle on the day in question. The court also sided with the defendants as to the lack of clear and convincing evidence that they acted with gross negligence and that, therefore, the record failed to support the jury’s award of exemplary damages.

The court went on to overrule the defendants’ remaining arguments, ultimately holding that the lower court’s judgment should be reversed on the issues of negligent entrustment, gross negligence, and exemplary, but that the judgment should otherwise be affirmed.

Need Help with an East Texas Truck Wreck Case?

Big trucks can cause serious, permanent, and disabling injuries, but trucking companies and their drivers often seek to avoid liability. To talk to an assertive east Texas truck accident lawyer with three decades of experience fighting for the rights of those hurt or killed by negligent drivers, call Earl Drott Law at (903) 531-9300. There is no charge for this completely confidential case evaluation of your Tyler or Smith County accident case.

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