TxDOT blamed for man's death in suit

David Yates Jan. 28, 2008, 6:41am

A wrongful death suit has been filed against the Texas Department of Transportation, claiming the governmental entity was responsible for the death of James Harper by causing a fatal collision on Interstate 10.

Adrian Harper, James' wife, filed the suit against TxDOT and Highway Technologies Inc. in the Jefferson County District Court on Jan. 24. Rocco Russo is also a plaintiff in the suit and is suing for the loss of his vehicle.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, on or about Oct. 30, 2007, James Harper was driving a vehicle owned by Rocco Russo, westbound in the 2300 block of I-10 East. "An accident occurred involving employees of (TxDOT) and Highway Technologies, Inc., causing severe injuries to James Harper, resulting in his death. The vehicle … was destroyed."

The Beaumont Enterprise reported that Harper, 40, was driving a Mack dump truck on the interstate near Seventh Street. Around 11:45 a.m. Harper apparently lost control of the truck, crossing several lanes of westbound traffic and hitting the outside concrete barrier. The truck went over the barrier and fell 20 feet.

The suit does not give any more specifics concerning the vehicle collision, but does, however, say the defendants committed the following acts of alleged negligence:

  • Failing to keep a proper lookout for James Harper's safety that would have been maintained by a person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances;
  • Failing to exercise ordinary care as a person of ordinary prudence would have maintained under the same or similar circumstances;
  • Failing to take appropriate steps to warn oncoming traffic of potential sudden stops;
  • Failing to follow policies and practices for road construction;
  • And failing to adhere to minimum safety standards.

    Adrian Harper is suing for James' lost wages and funeral expenses, plus wrongful death damages including mental anguish and loss of companionship.

    The plaintiffs are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by attorney Rodney Barnwell of the Moore Landrey law firm.

    Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

    Case No. E181-113

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