This week, a Texas jury awarded a semi truck driver $80 million for his involvement in a fatigue-related crash after he was reportedly forced by his managers to alter his log book to cover up the Hours of Service violations.
On Tuesday, May 7, a jury in a Hidalgo County, Texas, district court voted unanimously to award truck driver Lauro Lozano Jr. an $80 million settlement.
The settlement stems from a crash that happened on May 6, 2015, on northbound I-59 in rural Alabama, according to court documents. Lozano reportedly fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended another semi truck, causing him debilitating injuries.
Lozano’s legal team argued that the truck driver should never have been behind the wheel.
On or about May 3, 2015 at approximately 3:00 PM, Plaintiff, LAURO LOZANO, JR. (“Plaintiff,” unless otherwise indicated), a licensed commercial driver, had just returned to a truck depot in McAllen (the “Yard”) after delivering a shipment to San Antonio, Texas. The truck depot is operated by one of Plaintiff’s employers, JNM Express, LLC. Jorge Marin is the owner and manager of JNM Express, LLC. At all relevant times, Plaintiff was also employed by Omega Freight and Anca Transport, two entities subject to the control of Jorge and Silvia Marin. After checking in at the Yard, Plaintiff returned home to rest. Federal law required Plaintiff rest a minimum of 34 hours before running another load. To ensure these regulations are adhered to, federal regulations also require drivers like Plaintiff to track their hours of driving and resting in a log book. Only a few hours after returning home, Plaintiff received a call from Jorge Marin, instructing him to deliver another load brokered by Defendant Omega Freight. Plaintiff resisted, telling Jorge Marin he had only just returned home from the last run to San Antonio, and that he could not safely or legally drive this load. Jorge Marin instructed Plaintiff to alter his log book to make it appear as though he had taken the 34-hour rest period, and instructed him to return to the Yard the next morning to run the shipment to Maryland. Fearful that he would lose his job if he did not comply, Plaintiff came to the Yard at approximately 5:00 AM the next morning and set out for Maryland.
It was while he was traveling east through Alabama on the way to Maryland that Lozano was involved in the rear end crash.
The jury found that Lozano was entitled to $5 million for pain and suffering endured during and after the crash. They also found that each of the trucking companies — JNM Express, LLC, Omega Freight, and Anca Transpor — that were operated by Jorge Marin were to pay out $25 million each in punitive damages.