Last week, lawyers from the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys and Scherr Legate convinced the New Mexico Court of Appeals to uphold a state record $178 million verdict against Fedex for a 2011 crash that killed a mother and wife and her four-year-old daughter. The wreck also critically injured the woman’s 19-month-old boy.
Attorneys Jim Scherr and Sam Legate of Scherr Legate in El Paso, Texas, represented the surviving boy and his father. The fatal crash occurred in June of 2011 on Interstate 10 west of Las Cruces after midnight. A Fedex 22-wheel piggyback tractor trailer was traveling at 62 miles per hour and took no evasive action to avoid the victims’ disabled small pickup truck with flashing hazard and brake lights illuminated. The Fedex driver ignored another truck which had parked in the median — with flashing lights — to warn oncoming traffic.
“To date,” said Scherr, “almost seven years later, Fedex has not paid a thing nor apologized to the father and son whose lives and family it changed forever.”
The trial exposed Fedex’s unsafe trucking business model and the open secret that Fedex, which promotes a fleet of more than 30,000 trucks and 50,000 drivers, claims to have no employees — only “owner operators.” Scherr and Legate proved that as a licensed US DOT Motor Carrier, Fedex is responsible for its workers, yet has no safety training program for the drivers and that the company does nothing to determine if the drivers are fit to drive the dangerous, overnight shift.
“Fedex’s complete disregard for safety of the motoring public explains why the jury assigned it 65 percent of the fault for this collision,” said Legate.
The successful outcome is representative of the quality of representation by the attorney members of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, co-founded by attorneys Joe Fried and Michael Leizerman. “We founded ATAA so that lawyers who care about trucking safety could share information and collaborate on cases to expose dangerous conduct and gamesmanship,” said Fried.
The case was in the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Case No. A-1-CA-35001.