A Lowndes County Circuit Court jury last month found in favor of the family of Larry Albritton, who was killed Oct. 7, 2013, when the log truck he was driving overturned and crashed. An eye-witness said the rollover, which was not a high speed event, was like it was happening in slow motion. The load of logs shifted in the crash and breached the truck’s cab, which crushed in on the driver, resulting in his death. The jury determined that the cab guard on the truck was defective in design, manufacture and warnings.
The jury also found that the manufacturer Merritt Equipment Co. acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others in the way it designed, manufactured and provided warnings related to its cab guards and that the cab guard did not protect the driver as it was supposed to do. Defendants included Merritt Equipment Co., Pitts Enterprises and Volvo Trucks North America. The last two Defendants settled – Volvo prior to the trial and Pitts during the trial – and the case proceeded to verdict against Merritt as the sole defendant.
Truck drivers face many hazards on the road every day, from weather to unexpected traffic and unpredictable other drivers. One thing they should be able to count on is that the vehicle they are driving is designed so that they have a reasonable expectation of being safe in the event of a crash. In this instance, the manufacturer failed the driver, and it cost him his life. It is our hope that this verdict will send a message to Merritt and other companies that drivers’ safety is more important than their profits and bottom line.
Our firm has handled a number of cab guard cases over the past few years and all have either resulted in jury or verdict settlements. Cab guards are sold to serve as protection against load-shifting on large trucks that pull flat beds, trailers and log trailers. They are advertised as being highly effective to prevent shifting cargo from contacting the cab of the trucks. In this case, the cab guard failed miserably. The case is Jacqueline Wright et al v Volvo Trucks North America, Inc., et al, (45-CV-2013-9000091.00) in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Alabama.
Because of the litigation our firm has successfully handled, two of the cab guard manufacturers now say “do not use cab guards on log trucks.” Beasley Allen lawyers Jere Beasley, LaBarron Boone and Ben Baker, along with Tyrone Means of Means Gillis Law, represented the family in this case. Hopefully, Merritt will learn its lesson and will warn all of the log truck drivers who are at risk of defective cab guards on their trucks.
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