One morning in December 2015 around 11:00, a Tram-Am Trucking driver crashed into oncoming traffic on a two-lane road in Iowa, Louisiana. In the miles leading up to the crash, witnesses reported the driver swerved off the road to the right, then back on the road for a short distance before running off the road again. His delivery truck drifted further and further onto the shoulder until more than half the truck was off the road. Then, the Tram-Am swerved back toward the roadway, causing the truck to flip on its side. The truck slid across two lanes of pavement and crashed into an oncoming Ford truck. The driver of the Ford truck died after approximately 30 minutes of suffering.
The driver did not appear intoxicated at the scene and was not arrested for DUI. However, his blood test results revealed the presence of prescription pain and sleep medications, for which the driver had valid prescriptions.
Tram-Am hired the driver about 9 months before the crash and that he was arrested for DUI on his way home from training. After the new driver finished his training in Houston, he took pain and sleep medications before getting on Interstate 10 to drive three hours back to Louisiana. The driver was seen swerving and nearly hitting several cars on the Interstate around Vinton, Louisiana. He was pulled over and arrested for DUI.
The driver reported the arrest to his Tram-Am supervisor that night and admitted taking pain medication while driving.
Tram-Am Trucking took no meaningful action to investigate the DUI or their driver’s drug use. Tram-Am Trucking briefly made the driver ride as an observer (with pay) and then Tram-Am Trucking put him back on the road behind the wheel of commercial delivery truck.
Pharmacy records revealed that over the course of 4 years and 10 months, the driver had acquired over 300 extra sleeping pills from his pharmacy by refilling his prescriptions early.
Important rulings from the Court included Partial Summary Judgment allowing for punitive damages to be assessed against the employer Tram-Am Trucking based on vicarious and independent liability.
After the crash, Susan (fictional name used to protect our client’s privacy) regained consciousness briefly. After being cut out of her truck, she passed out and never woke up again. She suffered severe injuries to both legs and her upper body. Plaintiffs were Susan’s adult son and adult daughter.