Today’s Pickup: Jury holds broker partially responsible for trucker’s crash

(Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

A jury has awarded $15.57 million to Isaac Espinoza, who was struck by a tractor-trailer driven independent contractor Ricky Hatfield while assisting a friend on the side of I-81 north.

The jury determined that Hatfield was 60% responsible for accident, but that the firm Hatfield was contracted to for the load, J.B. Hunt Transport, was 40% responsible, according to Feldman Shepard attorneys, who represented Espinoza in the trial, which lasted three weeks.

Attorney Alan M. Feldman noted that he was “pleased the jury recognized that freight brokers have an obligation to retain careful and competent motor carriers and drivers. Had J.B. Hunt performed even the most cursory background check, it would have discovered Hatfield's terrible driving history that included a prior DUI while operating a tractor-trailer, a prior reckless driving charge, and a discharge from employment with a trucking company for failing a drug and alcohol test during which he attempted to bribe the person who was administering the test to him.”

According to Feldman, Espinoza was on the shoulder of the highway when he was struck by Hatfield’s truck. Hatfield then fled the scene on foot before being arrested. Police tested his blood alcohol level and found it to be .171, Feldman said.

Espinoza survived but suffered disabling injuries and will require constant care for the remainder of his life, Feldman said.

Did you know?

U.S. retail sales of Class 8 trucks reached 17,667, units in September, an 18% increased year-over-year and the highest number since June 2016, according to WardsAuto.com.

Quotable:

“Fleets are always there for us and have a pretty good outlook for next year. But there are a lot of owner-operators coming out of the woodwork who are very interested in purchasing brand new aerodynamic trucks. What we have is a lot more [of them] than in the past two years.”

- Scott Williamson, sales manager at Fyda Freightliner in Ohio

In other news:

Lyft secures $1B in investments

Alphabet Inc.’s CapitalG investment division has led a $1 billion investment into Lyft. The funding round puts the ride-sharing service’s valuation at $11 billion. (Transport Topics)

Covenant, Werner report strong earnings

Covenant Transportation Group and Werner Enterprises reported strong third-quarter earnings, but Marten Transport saw a drop in profit for the quarter. (Transport Topics)

Class 8 builds hit two-year high

New data from ACT Research says that Class 8 truck builds reached a two-year high in September as the economy continues to grow. (Fox Business)

Canadian ELD rule delayed

Canada was expected to adopt an ELD rule similar to the U.S., but that rule is now being delayed and will likely not go into effect until at least 2019. (Today’s Trucking)

Using AI to boost the supply chain

Artificial intelligence can be a boon to supply chain management, if it is used properly. (Inbound Logistics)

Final Thoughts

A jury found J.B. Hunt 40% responsible for a crash involving a driver it contracted with to move a load. Isaac Espinoza was awarded $15.57M overall, assigning 60% of the blame to the driver, Ricky Hatfield, who was allegedly driving drunk at the time. The fact that the jury held J.B. Hunt partially responsible as the broker should be a wakeup call to all the companies involved in brokering loads that they too can be responsible financially for the actions of a contracted driver.

Hammer down everyone!

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