$100 million judgment against trucking company affirmed on appeal
HOUSTON – The 14th Court of Appeals today affirmed a judgment of more than $100 million levied against Werner Enterprises and an employee in a lawsuit brought over an automobile collision.
The lawsuit, Jennifer Blake et al vs. Werner Enterprises et al, also named Shiraz Ali as a defendant.
According to the 14th Court’s opinion, Trey Salinas was driving a vehicle with Jennifer Blake and her three children on I-20 near Odessa during a National Weather Service Winter Storm Warning.
Salinas lost control of the vehicle and it crossed the 42-foot-wide grassy median before colliding with an 18-wheeler traveling over 40 miles per hour. Ali was driving the 18-wheeler, which was owned by Werner Enterprises. One of the children did not survive the collision.
The opinion lists dozens of relevant facts, including that:
Ali knew he was driving in “freezing rain,” which is the sole cause of black ice;
Despite the conditions, Ali was driving his 18-wheeler at approximately 43 miles per hour at the time of the collision;
Ali’s supervisor (who was in the truck with him) was asleep at the time of the collision;
There were at least 10 truck stops at which Ali could have stopped between Midland and Odessa; and
Werner did not convey any information about the Winter Storm Warning to its drivers because “it was a localized event.”
On appeal, Werner Enterprises and Ali raise six issues: legal and factual sufficiency with respect to the jury’s negligence liability finding against the driver, legal and factual sufficiency with respect to the jury’s negligence liability findings against the trucking company, jury charge issues, apportionment issues, admission of five different pieces of evidence, and the jury’s award of future medical care expenses.
The 14th Court concluded that there is sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Werner’s negligent training and supervision proximately caused the collision.
Two separate dissenting opinions were issued in the case.
Case No. 14-18-00967-CV