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    10,159.330
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    -0.460
    0%
  • TLT.USA
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  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
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  • DATVF.ATLPHL
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  • DATVF.CHIATL
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    -2.1%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
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  • DATVF.LAXDAL
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  • DATVF.PHLCHI
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  • DATVF.VNU
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  • DATVF.VSU
    1.168
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  • DATVF.VWU
    1.473
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  • ITVI.USA
    10,159.330
    1.720
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    4.760
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  • OTVI.USA
    10,151.560
    -0.460
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  • TLT.USA
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  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
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“Nuclear verdict” kills 540 truck carrier

CWRV, which hauls Camping World's RVs, is closing down after this month

Country Wide RV Transport (CWRV), the nation’s second largest RV and motor-home transportation provider, is shutting down for good, according to information received late Friday by FreightWaves.

The 540 drivers that currently work for the recreational vehicle transport company will be out of work effective November 1st. The news was first reported on the blog Freight Broker Live., which included a screen shot of an email sent to the company’s employees. 

The CWRV site says the company is exclusive hauler for RV retail chain Camping World (NYSE: CWH). 

CWRV uses independent contractors to transport recreational vehicles and motor homes from the factory and retail stores to consumers that purchased the vehicles. The company’s website says a driver must supply at least a 3/4 ton truck and necessary hitches and towing equipment. 

The company recently was the defendant in a civil lawsuit involving a driver who fell asleep at the wheel and killed a husband and wife. The jury awarded the children of the victims $26.6 million in a wrongful death lawsuit in a Denver, CO court-room just two weeks ago. 

According to the Denver Post, the CWRV driver was an independent contractor, but the jury determined that he should be treated as an agent of the company and therefore the company should be liable in the accident. The Post describes the family’s reason for suing was “to make a change in sleepy driving habits and within the trucking industry, including ensuring drivers log hours and companies take responsibility for driver actions while on the job.”’

The accident happened on July 4, 2017 at 2:30 PM, when the CWRV Dodge Ram plowed into the family’s GMC Yukon. The driver for CWRV, Mark Bollinger, pleaded guilty last year to two charges of reckless driving resulting in injury and received a suspended sentence, avoiding jail time. 

The jury award, while substantial, is not the largest of 2019. A $280 million jury verdict was awarded against a Georgia steel hauler in Columbus, Georgia. In that trial, the jury deliberated for just 45 minutes before coming back with the verdict. In 2018, a $101 million award was levied in a Texas courtroom against an oil service company. 

“Nuclear verdicts” describe jury awards where the penalties exceed $10M. The growing trend of juries awarding nuclear verdicts have forced some insurance providers to exit the trucking industry altogether. In recent years, AIG and Zurich International both stopped covering the trucking industry. 

In the past, trucking companies that used independent owner operators were able to avoid nuclear verdicts by insulating themselves from direct responsibility. But lawyers that sue trucking companies have found juries to be sympathetic to the victims and willing to place blame on carriers, even if the driver wasn’t an employee. 

The same has happened in the freight brokerage industry, where freight brokers have been dragged into personal injury lawsuits, especially when their actions appear to be in control of the driver or fleet. FreightWaves’ John Paul Hampstead covered the topic in July.

He described a concept known as “vicarious liability,”when the broker appears to be controlling the carrier to the point of supervising its actions and therefore assuming liability for them. Call checks, text messages and emails both to the carrier and to the shipper can put a broker at risk for vicarious liability. If a broker tells a driver to move a load through inclement weather, or make a delivery even though the driver is tired, or if a broker refers to a carrier in a customer email as “my driver,” a plaintiff’s attorney will try to allege that the broker is controlling the driver and assuming vicarious liability.

Nuclear verdicts are top of mind across the trucking industry. 

“We’re fed up,” ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Spear told members October 7 at the association’s Management Conference & Exhibition in San Diego. “I’m sick of playing defense while trial lawyers buy jets and yachts at the expense of trucking jobs. These ‘nuclear’ verdicts are strangling our industry.”

The trucking industry has faced a brutal 2019, which has been described as a “bloodbath.” Carriers and analysts that cover the sector have cited numerous reasons for carriers ceasing operations, ranging from Amazon restructuring its network, environmental regulations, low spot rates, lack of demand, GM plant closures, insurance, trade policy and general economic malaise. 

With brutal conditions facing operators, it is highly unlikely that CWRV will be the last trucking carrier to fold in 2019.

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Craig Fuller, CEO at FreightWaves

Craig Fuller is CEO and Founder of FreightWaves, the only freight-focused organization that delivers a complete and comprehensive view of the freight and logistics market. FreightWaves’ news, content, market data, insights, analytics, innovative engagement and risk management tools are unprecedented and unmatched in the industry. Prior to founding FreightWaves, Fuller was the founder and CEO of TransCard, a fleet payment processor that was sold to US Bank. He also is a trucking industry veteran, having founded and managed the Xpress Direct division of US Xpress Enterprises, the largest provider of on-demand trucking services in North America.

11 Comments

  1. Quote:
    “We’re fed up,” ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Spear told members October 7 at the association’s Management Conference & Exhibition in San Diego. “I’m sick of playing defense while trial lawyers buy jets and yachts at the expense of trucking jobs. These ‘nuclear’ verdicts are strangling our industry.”

    Well now , you can’t have your cake and eat it too . So which is it ATA ? Is there a driver shortage or not ? According to your claims there is a driver shortage . So if that were true ,why are you going off the handle ranting about truck driver job loss ? These truck drivers will simply fill another driver job in your supposed truck driver shortage claim .

    Is the ATA really looking out for truck drivers best interest or another party’s ?

    Let’s see .
    Quote:
    “ATA is composed of motor carrier members and is governed by a board of elected carrier representative members” .

    That’s interesting because it appears to me that TRUCK DRIVERS are fed up as well concerning the way that they are treated by CARRIERS ! TRUCK DRIVER LOW WAGES compared to the wages carrier CEO’s are pocketing off the backs and sweat of truck drivers is an example that comes to mind ! What about those CEO Mansions , Yachts , and Jets etc at the truck drivers expense ???

    One who is vulnerable to criticism regarding a certain issue should not criticize others about the same issue !

    I could go on and on about motor carrier associations lobbying for regulations in favor of carriers and not in favor of truck drivers .

    Apparently what goes around comes around . Let’s call it , hmmm I dunno ,”KARMA” !

    How does it feel to get squeezed major motor carrier association ? Truck drivers have been getting squeezed for years !!!!

    In my humble opinion …………

    1. For sure we drivers are fed up and sounds like it time for the drivers to show just who is driving enough drivers shut there trucks down at the same time maybe we will be heard

      1. A quote from Global Wealth Inequality :

        “Those with extreme wealth have often accumulated their fortunes on the backs of people around the world who work for poor wages and under dangerous conditions. ”

        In my opinion that statement could not describe a “truck driver” any better .
        WORKING FOR POOR WAGES & UNDER DANGEROUS CONDITIONS !

        Here is another quote:
        “Low interest rates have not driven real growth in wages, productivity, innovation, and services development that create real wealth for the working class. Instead, wealth and income are concentrated in the top 1 %. The concentration of wealth in the top one percent is at the highest level since 1929. The World Inequality Report notes inequality has squeezed the middle class between emerging countries and the U.S. and Europe. The top 1 % has received twice the financial growth benefits as the bottom 50 % since 1980:”

        That being said , a “strike” is not a sustainable long term solution .

        The only way, in my opinion, truck drivers can “win” and prosper long term is to position themselves in a way where they can compete with the 1% and thus become part of the 1% rank . From my perspective that would be a long term prosperous and sustainable solution during this capitalism era .

        It hasn’t been done before ,at least not by truck drivers as a whole . Therefore rather than follow the “crowd” , why not be pioneers ?

        In my humble opinion …………………

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