On Feb. 9, 2014, Desmond Rachard Woods was driving his 1989 Ford Crown Victoria northbound on Interstate 65 in Autauga County, Alabama, when the vehicle experienced mechanical problems and shut off. The vehicle stalled in the right-hand lane of the interstate. Woods and two other passengers got out of the vehicle to check under the hood. Kimberly Livingston and Marquita Speer, two sisters, were back-seat passengers in the Woods car. They remained inside while the other passengers were outside looking to see why the car had stalled. While Woods was checking under the hood, a truck driver for a nationwide trucking company drove his 18-wheeler into the back of the Woods vehicle. As a result of the collision, both vehicles caught on fire and the two passengers in the Woods vehicle burned alive.
Chris Glover, a lawyer in our firm, along with Robert Bruner of the Birmingham firm Belt & Bruner, represented the Plaintiffs in this case. Plaintiffs brought negligence and wantonness claims against the truck driver and the trucking company, and negligent hiring, training and supervision claims against the trucking company. It was discovered through our investigation that the Defendant truck driver suffered from sleep apnea, and that he had lied about this to his employer. The truck driver was also taking medication to combat daytime sleepiness and shift work disorder, which he also failed to disclose to his employer. The driver testified in his deposition that he deliberately withheld this information for fear he would not get a commercial driving job. However, the driver was truthful about his diabetes diagnosis. The driver was still allowed to drive, despite the company’s internal policy not to hire drivers with a glucose of more than 200 mg/dl.
Commercial carriers have the responsibility to make sure their drivers are medically qualified. This trucking company had in its possession the driver’s Department of Transportation (DOT) long form indicating he was diabetic. Therefore, he was not medically qualified to drive. The Defendant trucking company had no system in place to monitor and enforce its own safety policy regulations and exposed the public to danger and risk of serious harm. Further, the company lacked any fatigue management program or program to monitor its drivers’ medical exams and medical conditions.
We were able to secure settlements for both families. The amounts are confidential at the request of the Defendants. Chris and Robert were honored to represent the families of Kimberly Livingston and Marquita Speer.
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