Relatives of Decedent, Jane Doe v. CDE Trucking Company & Driver (Truck/Passenger Vehicle Collision Case)
Decedent, Jane Doe, was driving to work on an interstate highway when the front left tire of her vehicle went flat. The Decedent’s disabled vehicle then came to a rest such that it was straddling the right lane of the three lane westbound highway and a narrow shoulder that was bordered by a concrete wall.
The Defendant tractor-trailer driver, John Smith, an employee of CDE Trucking Company, struck Ms. Doe’s vehicle in the rear. The gasoline tank of Ms. Doe’s vehicle was punctured during the collision and leaking gas ignited, engulfing the vehicle in flames.
According to the county coroner who performed the autopsy, Ms. Doe died from a combination of smoke inhalation and blunt force trauma to her thoracic spine. Due to the severe burn injuries Ms. Doe suffered, dental records were necessary to identify her body at autopsy.
Plaintiffs’ investigation determined that Defendant John Smith had violated numerous rules of the road by: Driving at a speed in excess of the posted speed limit, failing to keep a careful lookout, failing to maintain the ability to stop within the distance that could be seen ahead and passing on the right.
Plaintiffs’ investigation also determined that Defendant John Smith previously had been convicted of a felony conspiracy charge that involved the use of an eighteen wheel truck to transport cocaine from Mexico into the U.S., a fact that was unknown to CDE Trucking Company until after the collision. Plaintiffs also learned that Defendant John Smith’s actual job experience raised doubt about whether he was properly qualified and experienced as a tractor-trailer driver. Defendant Smith recited on his job application that he had been driving commercial trucks for the previous six years when, in fact, he had been operating a backhoe for various excavating companies. Defendant Smith also recited that he had been previously employed as a full-time truck driver during a three-year period when, in fact, he was being held in custody on a probation violation.
The case settled for $5 million and was the subject of a featured article in the August 20, 2007 issue of Missouri Lawyers Weekly.