Two-Truck Accident Results in Five Party Lawsuit – 3.1M Verdict Awarded in Edwards v. Millstadt Rendering Co.

In a standard auto accident lawsuit there are typically two parties, i.e., the plaintiff and the defendant. However, if one of the drivers happened to be driving while on the job, then his employer could also be involved in the lawsuit. In the truck accident lawsuit of Thomas Edwards, Betty Edwards and Slay Transportation v. Millstadt Rendering, Co., et al., 08 L 813, both the plaintiff truck driver and the defendant truck driver were working at the time of the two-truck accident. As a result, Edwards involved both a plaintiff truck driver and his employer and a defendant truck driver and his employer.

At 3:30 a.m. on the date of the accident, defendant Gary Collier was driving a tractor-trailer owned by Millstadt Rendering along Interstate 55 near St. Genevieve, Missouri. Collier’s vehicle ended up running through the highway’s median and came to a stop with the tail end of the trailer extending into a lane of oncoming traffic. The plaintiff, Thomas Edwards, happened to be driving a tanker-trailer owned by Slay Transportation in the opposite direction as Collier had been driving. Edwards ended up driving his vehicle into the rear portion of Collier’s truck and suffered extensive injuries as a result of the highway truck accident.

The 62 year-old Edwards sustained a severe fracture to to his pelvic bone, which required an open reduction surgery with the insertion of plates and screws. In addition, Edwards suffered from a sciatic nerve injury, which left him with a permanent foot drop and nerve injury. He also developed deep venous thrombosis following the truck accident, which not only required the placement of an umbrella filter, but also a Coumadin therapy regimen for the rest of his life. Edwards’s lengthy recovery also led to the development of a decubitus ulcer and depression.

As a result of his substantial injuries, Edwards filed a claim for damages against both Collier and the tractor-trailer’s owner, Millstadt Rendering. In addition, Edwards’s wife, Betty, filed a claim against both defendants for loss of consortium. In civil law, loss of consortium is a claim for damages arising out of the loss of services of one’s spouse and can include a loss of companionship, sexual relations, material services, and/or felicity.

The third claim was brought by Edwards’s employer, Slay Transportation, for property damage to the vehicle Edwards’s was driving at the time of the trucking accident. It claimed that its tanker-trailer had sustained over $110,000 in damages as a result of the defendants’ negligence.

Both sides presented evidence aimed at showing that the drivers were tired and inattentive at the time of the trucking accident. The plaintiffs brought forward evidence which showed that Collier had been awake for 19.5 hours at the time of the highway accident. Whereas the defendants brought forth evidence that Edwards’s elevated blood sugar levels and history of diabetes caused him to have blurred vision and be overly tired.

The defense further contended that had Edwards not been tired that he could have avoiding Collier’s truck that was sitting in Edwards’s lane of traffic. Yet other evidence revealed that Collier’s trailer did not have its lights on when Edwards ran into it, which would have made it more difficult to see in the early morning hours. The defendants further denied responsibility for the accident, instead arguing that it was caused by a tire failure and was therefore unavoidable.

Despite the several arguments put forth by the defendants, the jury found them to be 93% responsible for the trucking accident and attributed only 7% comparative fault to Edwards. The original jury verdict of $3.1 million was reduced by this 7% and was then distributed amongst the three plaintiffs. Edwards received $2,325,000 as payment for his injuries, suffering, and lost time from work. His wife, Betty, received $744,000 for her loss of consortium claim. Slay Transportation received $103,103 as payment for the property damage to its vehicle.

For more than 35 years, Kreisman Law Offices has been handling trucking accidents for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding Illinois areas, including Glenview, Burr Ridge, Blue Island, Round Lake Beach, and Glen Ellyn.

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