A large settlement was reached yesterday in a lawsuit over a tragic Oklahoma truck accident that killed 10 people in June 2009. The settlement will compensate relatives of eight of the crash victims.
The accident occurred when a tractor-trailer driver crashed into a line of cars stopped along the Will Rogers Turnpike in northeastern Oklahoma. The cars were lined up due to an earlier crash that stopped eastbound traffic on the turnpike. Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., the truck's operator, was sued for failing to properly train and supervise the truck driver prior to the crash. The truck driver had allegedly left Missouri around 3 a.m. on the day of the crash and had worked continuously until the accident at 1:16 p.m.
The settlement was announced while prospective jurors were waiting to be questioned for trial in a Cleveland County courtroom.
The victims' relatives hope that the large settlement will motivate other truck operators to improve their safety and driver training programs.
An attorney for Associated Wholesale Grocers apologized to family members of the crash victims in court yesterday. He stated that the trucking company has made changes to its safety and driver training programs and was closely monitoring issues regarding fatigued driving. He also said the implications of the tragedy were "loud and clear" to the trucking company.
According to the attorney, the truck driver was "so remorseful" that he did not appear in court. The driver pleaded guilty to 10 county of negligent homicide in a plea agreement and will serve 30 days in county jail. He will be barred from holding a commercial driver's license.
Source: The Dallas Morning News "62.7 million settlement reached in tractor-trailer accident that killed 10 on Oklahoma turnpike" 10/7/10