A federal jury has awarded $3 million to the family of a 33-year-old man who was killed in 2009 on Interstate 95 in Flagler County, Fla. The verdict was returned in U.S. District Court by the jury in the death of Julio Rentas Jr. The case involved a collision between two commercial tractor-trailers. Betty Ann Tucker, a driver for Williamston Distributors, was merging her truck onto the interstate from the emergency lane when she failed to yield the right of way. That caused Rentas, driving a tandem tractor-trailer, to hit the back of Ms. Tucker’s truck.
Ms. Tucker said she had pulled off the road to check a light in her cab, then accelerated down the emergency lane to re-enter the right lane. According to her testimony in court, she saw lights approaching, but believed they were far away. Testimony was presented to the jury that Ms. Tucker had been on duty for about 19 hours prior to the accident, in violation of the 14-hour “Hour of Service” Rule of the Florida Motor Carrier Safety Act.
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