$1,587,000: Commuter Killed In Multi-Truck Mishap

CASE DESCRIPTION:  Decedent rear ended a tractor trailer rig that was stopped on the 57 Freeway in the early morning.  A second truck collided with Plaintiff, sandwiching Plaintiff between the trucks.  Decedent’s family brings a wrongful death suit claiming that the driver was negligent for stopping the tractor trailer in the middle of the freeway for no reason.  The Defendant disputed what happened factually and their liability.

RESULT:  $1,587,505.00 total verdict

Plaintiffs contended that Defendant Mustafa Y. stopped his tractor trailer rig in the #3 lane of the 57 freeway during the early morning hours for no apparent reason.  No emergency flashers were activated nor were any reflector triangles placed.  At the time, Mr. Mustafa Y. was pulling two trailers owned by Defendant B&P Bulk.

Decedent, Mr. Warren B., who was on his way to work at the time, collided with the rear trailer of Mr. Mustafa Y’s rig.  Shortly thereafter, a second truck owned by Consley & Montigney Co. collided into the back of Mr. Warren B., crushing his vehicle against the rear trailer for a second time.  Mr. Warren B. died as a result of the injuries he received in these incidents.

Plaintiffs contended that Mr. Mustafa Y. was negligent for stopping his tractor trailer in the traveled lanes of the 57 freeway under light traffic condition.  The most likely explanation of Mr. Mustafa Y’s conduct was fatigue in that he had driven at least 13.75 hours during the previous 24 hour period without adequate rest, despite the state mandated 12 hour driving limit.  Plaintiffs further contended that Defendant B&P Bulk was negligent for entrusting its trailers to a fatigued driver and that Mr. Mustafa Y. was the agent of B&P Bulk.  Given lighting conditions and the expectations of normal drivers, it was foreseeable that the Decedent would collide with the rear trailer.

The Defendants raised a multitude of reasons as to why they are not liable. They contended that the tractor trailer was clearly visible, so this “rear-end” collision was the fault of the decedent.  At the time of impact, Mr. Mustafa Y. was actually going 15 mph due to being cut-off by two cars trying to make the transition to the 60 freeway.  Furthermore, the second truck was the real cause of the Decedent’s death.  Defendants further contended that Mr. Mustafa Y. was an independent contractor, and not the agent of B&P Bulk.

TYPE OF CASE:  Wrongful Death

INJURIES:  The auto accident resulted in the death of Mr. Warren B.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT:  On 7/24/91 at 5:30 a.m. on the #3 lane of the 57 freeway near the 60 freeway transition.

PLAINTIFF’S AGE:  Decedent – 52 at time of incident

OCCUPATION:  Decedent – Mechanical Engineer

Darren O. Aitken & Wylie A. Aitken
For Plaintiffs – Gillian B., Steven B., Robert & Tracy B.

John C. Barber
For Defendant – Mustafa Y.
James Zurwaski
For Defendants – B&P Bulk, R & Cynthia L., Brite Transport Systems, Inc. & Ralph Pipkin Trucking, Inc.