A jury in Dallas, Texas, has returned an $84 million verdict against U-Haul International Inc. The plaintiff, a 74-year-old man, who was injured when the truck he rented ran over him, filed suit. The plaintiff parked the truck on a “slight incline” and the parking brake failed. It was alleged and proved that U-Haul failed to maintain the truck, thereby causing the accident. In fact, evidence at trial indicated that truck’s parking brake did not work at all. The Dallas jury found U-Haul guilty of negligence and awarded the plaintiff $84.25 million, including $63 million in punitive damages. U-Haul, a unit of Reno, Nevada-based Amerco, will appeal the verdict.
The plaintiff’s pelvis was crushed in the 2006 accident, leaving him unable to walk and with no bowel control. It was alleged the rented U-Haul truck, which had 234,000 miles on it, was poorly maintained. It’s been known that the company doesn’t routinely service vehicles after being used by renters. A rented truck can be driven from Dallas to Michigan and then taken to a U-Haul center, but U-Haul won’t do any maintenance on it. Six previous renters had similar problems with this specific truck that was the subject of this trial.
In February, U-Haul settled another lawsuit involving a defective parking brake on a truck that killed a customer in San Francisco. That customer was killed at a U-Haul center in San Francisco in December 2006, when he was crushed between a post and a rental truck. He had returned the truck because the parking brake didn’t work. A U-Haul employee was working on the brake when the truck suddenly began rolling forward. According to a police report, the man rushed to the cab, apparently trying to climb in to stop the truck, but was pinned against the post. His family filed a wrongful death claim. Terms of that settlement were confidential.
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