An East Texas jury has awarded Krista Dillon $4 million in a civil lawsuit against Joe Tex Express of Mount Pleasant. At the heart of the case was the fraud committed by the trucking corporation to cover up its driver’s insufficient sleep.
Trucking Company Falsified its Driving Logs
In 2010, Krista Dillon was involved in a truck collision with a tractor-trailer driver employed by Joe Tex Express of Mount Pleasant on Interstate 30. Ms. Dillon sustained serious injuries that have required multiple back surgeries.
Joe Tex Express of Mount Pleasant and its driver committed fraud and violated federal safety regulation by falsifying its driving logs and committing perjury to avoid liability for the plaintiff’s substantial injuries.
The jury awarded Ms. Dillon more than $1.1 million in compensatory
damages, including past medical bills of almost $400,000 and
anticipated costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars for her future medical treatment. Key evidence included a doctor’s testimony about the pain and mental anguish Ms.
Dillon experienced because of the catastrophic 18-wheeler accident and
the extent of continued care she was likely to need.
found that both Joe Tex Express of Mount Pleasant and the driver were
grossly negligent when they altered driving logs and should held liable for punitive damages. The jury awarded Ms. Dillon a record
$3 million in punitive damages to send a clear message to the trucking
company that its fraudulent conduct is intolerable. They also awarded
her $2,000 in punitive damages against the driver to communicate their
intolerance for his role in the fraud. The trucking company plans to appeal.
Truck Log Laws on the Books to Protect the Public
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes clear, strict hours of service (HOS) rules on commercial vehicle drivers. The driver must accurately log driving and
work hours in accordance with the HOS regulations. FMCSA holds both the
driver and the driver’s employer accountable for HOS and truck log
violations. These rules are intended to keep tired drivers off the road,
a major cause of tractor-trailer accidents.
I commend the jury in this case for recognizing the importance of keeping accurate trucking
logs to protect the public. The company and driver acted in their own
self interest and at the detriment of other drivers when they falsified
records. By awarding the plaintiff a huge punitive damages award,
the jurors made other trucking company owners think twice
before engaging in fraud.