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NewsTrucking

Parents of girl killed in truck crash sue driver, motor carrier

The parents of a 9-year-old girl killed earlier this year in a tractor-trailer crash on Interstate 95 in Delaware have filed a federal lawsuit against the truck driver and the Memphis-based motor carrier.

Linda Asamoah and Patrick Owusu of Newark, Delaware, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Wilmington in mid-November against JNJ Express Inc. of Memphis and its truck driver, Brian Keith Winningham, 39, of Fairmont, North Carolina.

Court documents allege that Winningham failed to stop during rush-hour traffic on Sept. 24 and rear-ended three vehicles, including the SUV driven by Asamoah, forcing them off the road, before his 2014 Kenworth hit a guardrail and overturned.

Roselyn Adjei-Owusu died and Asamoah was permanently paralyzed in the crash, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Winningham was negligent because he failed to control the speed of his vehicle or apply his brakes in a timely manner to avoid the collision. It also claims he failed to take timely or proper evasive action.

Because Winningham drove for JNJ Express, the lawsuit alleges the carrier is vicariously liable for his actions.

John Ennis Jr., vice president of JNJ Express, did not respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment.

JNJ operates a fleet of around 400 trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SAFER website.

An occupant of another vehicle involved in the crash, Albert Frankel, 61, of Middletown, Delaware, also died.

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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. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in the Kansas City area with her family. If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to chawes@freightwaves.com.

11 Comments

  1. With all these “current” risks involved in driving trucks, and being deemed negligent in some cases, and the risk of being sued and going to jail , perhaps drivers should start asking for a raise in wages TENFOLD to compensate ! God forbid that you sneeze while behind the wheel and it blurs the driver facing in cab camera !

    1. Noble1, the risk experienced by the driver in this case is due to him crashing into the back of cars. He was likely either distracted (looking at his phone, not looking at the road, etc.), asleep or was driving way too fast. Why shouldn’t he be sued and held responsible? The results of his direct actions are pretty severe. Will be interesting to see what the judgement will be against the JNJ, which has pretty solid safety ratings. You, me and probably everyone who reads these articles agree that good drivers should make a lot of money, and many do. The hard part about raising driver wages significantly without significant rate increases is carriers assume so much risk if one of the drivers breaks the law (there are laws against distracted driving, laws against unsafe driving for the conditions), breaks company policy and has an accident. Unfortunately, insurance premiums are going up faster than rate increases.

      1. I’m not debating whether the driver was responsible or not , nor whether he should be held accountable and be penalized or not .

        I’m simply stating that due to all the risks involved in the trade , drivers should earn a heck of a lot more than they currently do .

        On another note :

        My most sincere condolences to the family for their loss

        In my humble opinion …………….

  2. I own 2 trucks and soon as they are paid for I’m done .The risk and pay isn’t worth the rewards.. The cost of operating doesnt = the pay no compensation for wait times but charges for being late. I had a spill and it cost me 3 days of pay for 4 hrs of work. Every industry has mark ups up to 300% except the trucking industry. The average cost for an accident is a million dollars.. The companies charge up to 25% to answer the phone to dispatch a load … It’s the biggest scam out there 23yrs and can’t wait till I’m done..

  3. On a more positive note :

    Quote:

    ” Carrier Owner Sells To Employees Instead Of Larger Company Or Private Equity Firm”

    You can check it out on The Truckers Report site . He offered the Co.(KKW Trucking )to the employees through an ESOP(Employee Stock Ownership Plan )

    WOW !

    1. Dennis Firestone is one of the finest leaders in the industry and a remarkable gentleman. He always ran his company like a race car pit crew; a fine oiled precision team.

      What a fitting tribute for him to turn this over to the people that made him such a success.

      Great job Dennis!

  4. In the year 2019 we do not have accidents any more. Today any mishap is a crime and the driver is the biggest target of any lawsuit. I retired several years ago and consider myself lucky to have not lost the farm over an “accident.”

  5. What’s the difference between killing somebody in a trucking accident or in a personal vehicle? Your going to get sued and your insurance company is going to pick up the damages. If it’s over the amount your insured for you will have to pay the difference. Same with the trucking company. They have insurance for this and if they don’t have a plan for a catastrophe like this then they were just not being prepared. 400 trucks is 400 different personalities.

    1. Quote:
      “What’s the difference between killing somebody in a trucking accident or in a personal vehicle? ”

      -The size of the “claim” .

      However , in this case the “collision” wasn’t an “accident ” if the truck driver is proven to have been “negligent” . If the driver is deemed to have been “negligent” then the “collision” that caused a loss of life and permanent paralysis was preventable .

      They’re not just going after the driver , they’re going after the carrier as well .

      Quote:
      “The parents of a 9-year-old girl killed earlier this year in a tractor-trailer crash on Interstate 95 in Delaware have filed a federal lawsuit against >>>the truck driver <<>>motor carrier.<<<"

      In my humble opinion ………..

    2. You are absolutely right and I am still lucky. The mega “Neutron” law suit is still out there with driver X’s name on it.
      It is a haloushtion to think some insurance company and carrier is going to take care of you when the shit flies…….

  6. Why are we not seeing the articles when the car/auto is proven at fault and they are being sued along w/their insurance provider for millions of dollars ? Because it’s not happening. At the most the motor carrier gets the equipment repaired and the driver may get some additional payment pending the loss of future income/permanent bodily damage depending on the coverage the auto driver had in place. It’s rarely in the the millions.
    Workers comp insurance can assign a dollar amount to specific parts of the body to be paid for loss/injury yet these lawsuits are open ended w/no fixed dollar amount and now the future of hundreds of employees is at risk due to an accident that has yet to determine fault. Would it make a difference if the accident were caused due to an unforeseen health related issue ?
    You would think this would be a priority of all major/mid sized carriers to lobby some form of legislation to cap these settlements, but they’ve learned the trial lawyers have stronger lobbying power and the wiser/experienced carriers have positioned/leveraged themselves to survive such incidents.

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