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NewsTrucking

Family files $10 million lawsuit in fatal crash despite truck driver being cleared of any wrongdoing

The parents of two children killed in a fatal crash during a snowstorm in March 2018 on Interstate 29 in eastern North Dakota have filed a $10 million lawsuit, alleging negligence against the trucking company and its driver, despite a five-month investigation that cleared the truck driver of any wrongdoing.

Bryan Dean and Trista Curry recently filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fargo, North Dakota, against Pan-O-Gold Baking Company, headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and truck driver Michael Soyring.

According to court documents, Curry was driving a 2013 Honda Pilot with her three children on I-29 when icy conditions caused her to “lose control of her vehicle,” which slid into the path of Soyring’s truck. Despite his efforts to avoid the crash, his tractor-trailer still struck Curry’s SUV on the passenger side, the Star Tribune reported.

Killed in the crash were Curry’s 1-year-old and 9-year-old sons. Curry and her 3-year-old daughter both sustained serious injuries, while Soyring wasn’t injured in the crash.

Court documents allege that Pan-O-Gold “knew or should have known of the adverse weather conditions” at the time of the crash and should have directed Soyring “off of the highway and onto a different route or to a place of safety.” The lawsuit also claims that Pan-O-Gold was negligent for failing to equip Soyring’s 2002 Volvo tractor with “standard safety equipment” that may have prevented or aided in the prevention of the severity of the collision.

The lawsuit alleges that Soyring “failed to exercise extreme caution by driving too fast for the weather conditions and not managing a reasonable following distance for traffic ahead of him, which resulted in him crashing his tractor-trailer” into the SUV driven by Curry.

The Grand Forks County States Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against either driver involved in the fatal crash following a five-month investigation that reviewed the motor vehicle crash report, post-crash inspection field notes, as well as other supplemental reports.

The investigation concluded that Soyring was operating his vehicle in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration road and weather conditions, according to a press release issued by Grand Forks County State’s Attorney David T. Jones in August 2018. 

There was also no evidence of excess speed or other driving violations, including distracted driving, by Soyring. A post-crash inspection found no equipment issues concerning Soyring’s rig, the report also found. 

The investigation also found that Curry had properly restrained her children in her vehicle and there was no evidence of distracted driving. Of some concern was the worn condition of the back tires on Curry’s car, considered “borderline for winter use,” the report found.

“What is clear is that road and weather conditions had deteriorated greatly that morning,” Jones said.

Pan-O-Gold, which has 549 drivers and power units, is known for its Country Hearth and Village Hearth brands in the Upper Midwest.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 13 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Prior to joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in Grain Valley, Missouri, with her family.

6 Comments

  1. According to court documents, Curry was driving a 2013 Honda Pilot with her three children on I-29 when icy conditions caused her to “lose control of her vehicle,” which slid into the path of Soyring’s truck. Despite his efforts to avoid the crash, his tractor-trailer still struck Curry’s SUV on the passenger side, the Star Tribune reported.

    The car driver lost control but it’s the truck driver’s fault?…sure, and $10m will make all the pain go away.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. Sadly lives were lost. May the children Rest in Peace but how is this the Truck Driver’s fault?

  2. It is tragic that those children died in this crash HOWEVER this suite is a travesty of justice for both the driver of the big rig as well as his company. It appears both the driver and the company operated in a safe, responsible manner.

    Borderline tires on the car as well as the mother’s “loss of control” should indicate her as the at-fault party, PERIOD. Had the tires on the big rig been equipped with “borderline tires for winter use” or the big rig driver suffered “loss of control”, the attorneys would have had a field day.

    Everyone needs to take responsibility for his/her actions.

  3. It is so sad that these children lost their lives, especially when their own irresponsible mother chose to drive on this day. But now these cockroach parents show their true colors by filing a lawsuit against innocent people. Too bad the mother and the father wasn’t killed together and the children saved.

  4. Again in reference to the case, sad, but but , who fault,??? Hers n no other, none she put both of her children or her kuddies, at risk by the very simple urge ,to take the initial action ,to pass the 18′ 1wheeler,
    She is the one who turned an was at the steering wheel, in total control of her car, she make the wrong decision, at knows fairly well ,the dangers of passing an semi, i bad weather, if she is an experienced driver, probably not, SHE IS THE ONLY ONE ,,,TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HER CHILDREN,,N NO OTHER, ,,I know this sounds cold hearted, but there is no other to put ir,
    She took the time to decide ,n turn the car, to pass, at the expense of her children, sorry,

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