A Columbus, Georgia jury has awarded a $280 million verdict to a family following a horrific truck accident that claimed five of its members. The accident took place in July of 2016 when a truck owned by Schnitzer Southeast and driven by one of its employees slammed head-on into a car carrying Judy Madere, her twin sister Trudy, her adult daughter, and her two grandchildren.
The jury needed just 45 minutes of deliberation about who was at fault for the truck accident, and they came back with what is believed to be the largest verdict ever delivered against a truck company. The family of Trudy Madere also plans to file a lawsuit against the trucking company, while compensation for the losses of the mother and her two children was agreed to in an out-of-court settlement.
Evidence Presented in Truck Accident Lawsuit Said To Be Gruesome
According to evidence presented at the trial, truck accident investigators determined that the only skid marks present at the accident scene came from the family’s vehicle, and the truck driver never slowed down before crossing the centerline of the two-lane highway and crashing into their SUV. Records showed that the driver had slept less than five hours the night before, and the family’s attorney theorized that he had fallen asleep and had been entirely unaware of the impending crash. The driver testified that he had swerved to avoid a dog in the road, but others who witnessed the accident testified that there was no dog present.
Though the fatal truck accident occurred in east Alabama, the case was filed in Georgia, where the trucking company is based. Schnitzer Southeast is a subsidiary of Schnitzer Steel, and both the scrap metal division (which owned the vehicle and employed the truck driver) and the steel manufacturing and recycling parent company were found liable because they are so closely linked to one another.