In an unusual turn of events, a major motor carrier was recently awarded a sizable judgment by a Tennessee jury. Lee Piovarcy and Lew Wardlaw of the Martin Tate firm in Memphis tried the case to verdict. On July 24, 2013, after a three (3) day trial in the Circuit Court of Gibson County, a jury awarded $685,549.60 in damages to one of the nation’s largest fuel tanker carriers. On post-trial motions, the trial judge awarded $6,724 in discretionary costs and $123,396.98 in pre-judgment interest.
The relevant facts involve a June 15, 2006, accident that occurred on Scenic Route 54 in Gibson County, Tenn. A large tractor pulling a bush hog mower was making a left turn into a driveway when it turned into the drive tires of a tractor-trailer loaded with almost 9,000 gallons of gasoline. Despite the decades of experience of the truck driver, the tanker truck flipped onto its side, spilling its load of fuel. The mower company claimed that the tanker struck the mower while passing on a two-lane road. While the truck driver’s injuries were handled in a separate action, the jury found the mower company 100% liable for the total loss of the tractor-trailer and for the extensive environmental remediation undertaken by the carrier. The total judgment in favor of the motor carrier was for $815,670.58.