Walters Richardson has defended regional trucking companies, national carriers, interstate brokers, short haul truckers, and coal truckers against allegations of violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and other federal and state regulations. Our attorneys are trained in hands-on investigation of trucking accidents, arriving on scene as soon as possible after first contact with expert witnesses to assist in our initial evaluation. We establish contact quickly and review all necessary records from state and federal agencies so that we can provide a prompt evaluation of liability to our clients.
Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day at (859)230-1165, to accept your call in the event of an accident.
November 2018, Powell County, KY: Henson v. Estate of Turner and Bowling Trucking. Melissa Richardson and David Noble successfully obtained a unanimous defense verdict on liability on behalf of their clients, Bowling Trucking and the Estate of Charles Turner, in Powell Circuit Court. Mr. Turner was driving down the Mountain Parkway when he entered a significant fog area. This fog was exacerbated by smoke from area wildfires. There was a warning sign at the top of the Mountain advising drivers of the potential for reduced visibility. Mr. Turner slowed as a result. He driving his loaded coal truck down the mountain at approximately 15-20 mph when he came upon two vehicles that were stopped in the roadway ahead of him. The physical evidence shows that he made a hard braking maneuver and started to veer to the left to avoid these vehicles. While in the process of responding to these vehicles, Mr. Turner was rear-ended by three vehicles. The first vehicle to impact Mr. Turner’s coal truck struck it so hard that the back of the trailer came open and coal started pouring onto the vehicle and the roadway. The lone plaintiff who proceeded to trial was driving the vehicle that first impacted Mr. Turner’s coal truck. He alleged he was being careful and that, but for Mr. Turner stopping in the roadway, he would not have been injured. Evidence showed that the Plaintiff was going 55 mph at the time of impact and 70 mph just two seconds before impact. Despite a significant crash, Plaintiff had relatively minor injuries. Nevertheless, he asked the jury for more than one million dollars in damages to compensate him for his pain and suffering. Video footage of the road conditions was secured during the course of the litigation from a first-responder who had a dash camera. The jurors were able to see that the conditions on the roadway became progressively worse, which was echoed by the testimony of nearly all fact witnesses. As a result, the jury determined Mr. Turner had not acted improperly as alleged by Plaintiff. See KTCR Report. The Voice.
August 2018, Tangipahoa Parish, LA: Farrag and Hammad v. Sindle Trucking, Tyrone Kilgore, and HDI Gerling America Insurance. Melissa Richardson successfully defended Sindle Trucking, its driver, Tyrone Kilgore, and its insurer, HDI Gerling America Insurance in a rear-end accident between Mr. Kilgore’s loaded tanker truck and Plaintiff Farrag’s semi. Farrag blew a tire in May 2014 while travelling north on I-55 in Tangipahoa Parish, near Hammond, LA. He testified that he pulled over to the shoulder to check on the tire but returned to the right lane of the roadway because he did not believe it would be safe to remain on the shoulder. After driving at a reduced speed of 35 mph for 20 minutes, and possibly passing at least one exit, he was struck in the rear driver’s side corner of his trailer by Defendant Kilgore as he was attempting to change lanes to avoid Plaintiff’s slow moving semi. Plaintiff contended that, because this was a rear-end accident in which Defendant Kilgore was given a traffic ticket for “careless operation,” Defendant Kilgore was 100% at fault. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was at fault because, by his testimony, he had 20 minutes to avoid this accident by (1) remaining parked on the shoulder and waiting for a service truck, (2) taking one of the exits he likely passed, or (3) calling for an escort.
Plaintiff reported no injury to the police and, in fact, did not start treating until two weeks after the accident. He was initially diagnosed with sprains/strains to his neck, low back, and knees. After receiving treatment for about six months in his home state of Tennessee, Plaintiff was cleared to return to work without any restrictions. Plaintiff then hired an attorney from New Orleans, and subsequently began flying from Tennessee to New Orleans for treatment. Plaintiff’s attorney referred him to Dr. F. Allen Johnson and Dr. Rand Voorhies. He eventually underwent five surgeries with these two doctors: two knee arthroscopies, neck fusion, low back fusion, and hardware removal. Plaintiff incurred approximately $510,000 in medical bills.
The jury was charged on Saturday afternoon. After approximately an hour and a half, they returned with a decision that split fault equally between the two drivers. $250,000 was awarded for medical expenses. $50,000 was awarded for past physical pain and suffering. $50,000 was awarded for past mental pain and anguish. Plaintiff’s total verdict is $175,000. Plaintiff Farrag’s wife, Ms. Hammad, also had a loss of consortium claim, but no damages were awarded. In January 2017, an offer of judgment was made for $400,000. Plaintiff’s demand at al points prior to trial never came below $3.2 M. Plaintiffs asked the jury to award between 2.4 – 4 million. See The Voice. See Louisiana Trial Court Review. See KTCR Report.
October 2015, Owsley County, KY: This two week trial resulted in a defense verdict on liability in the case of Pam Lane and Pam Lane as Administrator of the Estate of Matthew Lane v. James Baker and W.A. Kendall Co. On May 20, 2014, Pam Lane and her husband, Matt Lane, were driving their motorcycle on Hwy 30 in Owsley County. The speed limit on the roadway is 55 mph but the area where the accident happened had an advisory speed of 25 mph. Matt Lane was driving 40+ mph around a sharp, blind curve when he lost control and slid across the yellow line and under a large truck driven by James Baker. The truck was pulling a wood chipper. Baker saw the motorcycle lose control and immediately steered to the right, into a ditch, and up against a mountain. Matt Lane was killed instantly. Pam Lane had a traumatic leg amputation as a result of the accident.
Plaintiff initially claimed that Baker was in the middle of the road and that as a result, when Lane came around the curve, he was scared by the truck and laid the motorcycle down. This theory was based on expert Joey Stidham’s belief about the position of the wood chipper upon final rest. His theory was that if you simply backed the truck/chipper up a few feet, it would definitively prove that Baker was across the road. Stidham attempted to create an animation to show this, but was unsuccessful in doing so (Defendants were not allowed to examine Stidham on this issue despite deposition testimony from Stidham acknowledging this fact). Defense Expert Ken Agent pointed out the flaws in Stidham’s “innovative” theory. He indicated that the pre-impact brake marks proved that the truck was not over the center line as the truck could not have possibly gone into the ditch as quickly as it did had it been on the opposite side of the road.
After that theory failed, Joey Stidham came up with a second theory—that the brakes were defective in the truck. Despite dismissing all estimates from Mr. Baker and other witnesses, Stidham latched on to Mr. Baker’s testimony of his best “estimate” which he also called a “guess” as to how far he was from the motorcycles when he first saw them. The testimony of Baker was that he was 200-250 feet when he saw the motorcycles. As a result, he believed this definitively proved that the truck’s brakes had to have been defective. To support this, Stidham relied on his inspection of the truck that happened a year and a half later when the truck was out of service. However, the truck passed a Level 1 inspection given by a local KVE officer on the date in question. Mr. Stidham also stated that proof of the defective brakes was due to a lack of brake marks from the chipper. Again, Defense expert Ken Agent pointed out the numerous problems with this. According to Agent, the physical evidence definitively proved that the Lanes were travelling at least 40 mph and that it took them 2 seconds between the point at which they lost control and the impact with the truck. Brake marks from the truck, both pre- and post-impact marks show the truck was traveling 23 mph and was 57 feet from the point of impact when the motorcycle lost control. As a result, brakes—whether they were perfect or non-existent—would not have mattered. Additionally, mechanical expert Larry Baareman of Michigan also testified that the brakes as they existed on the truck at the time of Stidham’s inspection was definitively not the condition of the brakes on the date of the accident. However, even if they were in the same condition, the truck would have been capable of safely completing an emergency braking maneuver with no loss of braking capacity.
Plaintiffs also advanced a conspiracy theory suggesting that W.A. Kendall was trying to hide the truck/chipper involved in the accident; this was pushed due to errors in the paperwork that is done by the individual employees who use the truck involved in the accident. It is worth noting that this truck was in fact a spare truck and was not used on a daily basis. This truck was only used by Baker on the date in question because his other truck, ironically, was taken to the shop earlier in the day because a brake light had come on during his use of it that morning. Plaintiffs also claimed that WMR’s hiring of Ken Agent to go to the scene the day after the accident was further proof of the conspiracy. Plaintiffs also took issue with the non-mandatory drug test that the company administered to Baker on the night of the accident. When the test gave negative results, the urine was poured out. Plaintiffs claimed that the W.A. Kendall employees should have preserved the urine. See KTCR report. See The Voice.
September 2015, Perry County, KY: Mrs. Richardson obtained a defense verdict on liability in this 3 week trial styled Slone v. Moore (12-CI-184). On February 2, 2012, Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle travelling on Hwy 80 in Perry Co., Ky. The driver of his vehicle, Duane Stidham, was third partied in by Mrs. Richardson's client and then Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint that included a claim for negligence against driver, Duane Stidham. Driver then filed a claim against Mrs. Richardson's client, Linda Moore, who was driving a school bus with 8 students on it at the time of the accident.
Ms. Moore was pulling out of a small, country road across Hwy 80, in an area where that roadway is 4 lanes and a median. Ms. Moore saw a loaded, 18-wheel coal truck coming up a long, straight hill, going approximately 25-30 mph. The coal truck driver agreed with this. Ms. Moore said the coal truck was near the mile-marker when she pulled out. The coal truck driver disagreed with this—he estimated that he was anywhere from 2-3 car lengths from her to 300 feet away at the time she pulled out. Joey Stidham, Plaintiff’s accident reconstructionist, ultimately admitted that the mile marker was more than 600 feet away. He also said he believed that the coal truck and the Duane Stidham truck were about 350 feet away when Duane Stidham first saw the bus.
Duane Stidham and Plaintiff, Travis Slone, both said they saw the bus. Plaintiff told Duane to “watch it,” which Duane said he did do, and then he sped up. He was originally going 60 MPH, and his EDR in the pickup recorded that 5 seconds before the accident he was going 70; he continued to go 70 until 2.4 seconds before impact. He ultimately slowed to 35 just before impact. Joey Stidham admitted that Plaintiff could have stopped if he was going 60 mph and that the accident would not have happened if he had been going 55 mph. Joey was impeached multiple times. Joey and Plaintiff’s counsel also developed a new theory in the weeks leading up to the trial that Mrs. Richardson was unaware of until his examination—it was the theory that the speedometer in the driver’s truck was off as the tires had been changed on the truck. This accounted for a 10-12 mph increase on the speedometer, such that when the ERD says he was going 70, he was really going 58-60. That theory was debunked in multiple ways, not the least of which was by using Joey’s own testimony that at 60 mph, driver Duane Stidham could have stopped.
Plaintiff sustained a broken femur, broken wrist, and a head wound. He had 3 surgeries on his leg following and one wrist surgery. Despite these surgeries and the installation of hardware, he had a good recovery per his surgeon. Plaintiff was not wearing his seatbelt. Driver was and sustained no injuries, though he claimed he hit the windshield. The proof indicated he actually hit the airbag. Plaintiff, claimed that his failure to wear a seatbelt would not have mattered because the driver also hit the windshield. He originally claimed a brain injury with the assistance of Dr. Granacher. Right before trial, that claim was formally dismissed by Plaintiff voluntarily.
Plaintiff proceeded to trial, with Joey Stidham as his recon expert and Bill Smock as his seatbelt expert. Mrs. RIchardson did not call a reconstructionist or a seatbelt expert. Plaintiff also brought his surgeon to trial for live testimony.
2011, Johnson Circuit Court 11-CI-274. Johnson et al v. Republic Diesel. Earl Green and his wife and daughter were passengers in a vehicle that was rear-ended by a commercial vehicle. While the Greens were not injured at the scene, they reported later that day to the ER. They have since been treated for wide-ranging soft-tissue symptoms. The Greens filed suit against the driver of the commercial vehicle and his employer, claiming in excess of $415,000 in medical expenses and future care. As the result of a zealous defense lead by John W. Walters, the jury returned a $0 verdict.
2010, Floyd Circuit Court 10-CI-223. Hill v. Busy Bee Septic. Tamela Hill was navigating a narrow mountain bridge. A driver of a commercial vehicle approached from the opposite direction. As the two met on the bridge, there was a serious collision. Hill filed suit against the employer of the commercial operator. Our firm, representing the defense, presented the testimony of a biomechanics expert who indicated that Hill's injuries would have been greatly mitigated if she had been wearing a seat belt. The defense also presented a neuropsychiatry expert who diminished the notion of a permanent brain injury caused by the collision, linking those symptoms instead to multiple life stressors. Hill asserted damages in excess of $2.7 million. She received nothing, however, when the jury returned a verdict for the defense.
2008, Adair Circuit Court, 08-CI-0083. Smith v. Turner et al. Coy Turner was operating a grain truck for his employer. As he drove, the truck's left front wheel fell off. Turner lost control and struck an oncoming Jeep Cherokee driven by Barbara Smith. Smith sued Turner and his employer for more than $1.6 million. Walters Richardson represented the defense, asserting that the wheel's falling off constituted a sudden emergency. The defense also implicated Smith's failure to wear a seat belt, and an expert for the defense testified that Smith could have avoided the accident had she been more attentive. Finally, Smith's damages were diminished by the defense's neurosurgery expert, who opined that Smith's complaints had a somatic component and that she could return to work. The jury returned a verdict for the defense, and Smith took $0. See KYTCR report.
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6871. French v. Clarksville Stave & Lumber Co., Ltd..A rollover accident that occurred after two truckers met in an S-Curve on a narrow rural road resulted in a trial before the U.S. District Court at Covington. After brief deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant who was represented by Melissa Thompson Richardson.