Insurer of truck totaled by wayward wheel seeks damages from tire installer

Kelly Holleran Jan. 2, 2009, 5:11am

After a wheel flew off an SUV and caused it to swerve into a big rig,the truck's insurer is suing the Texas company that installed the tire on the SUV.

Clarendon American Insurance Company, as subrogee of Pro-Log Inc. and PACAR Leasing and Truck Rental, claims Joseph K. Fontenot was driving a tractor trailer unit owned by the Clarendon policy holders west on Texas 73 west of milepost 758 when the incident occurred, according to a complaint filed Dec. 24 in Jefferson County District Court.

At the same time, Eric John Carlsen was driving in an adjoining lane when a left rear wheel flew off his 1994 Bronco, causing Carlsen to swerve in front of the tractor trailer Fontenot was driving, the suit states.

Because of the incident, Carlsen was killed and the tractor trailer was totaled, Clarendon American Insurance Company claims.

The collision was caused because of the negligence of Jackie Baxter Tire Company, the business that installed the tires on the car Carlsen was driving, the plaintiff claims.

"Plaintiff would show that the negligence of Defendant and/or Defendant's employee(s) in the course and scope of their employment with defendant, in the servicing of Carlsen's vehicle, proximately caused the accident and the resulting damages to Plaintiff's insureds," the original complaint states.

Clarendon American Insurance Company claims it suffered the loss of the tractor trailer for a sum of $33,316.25, towing and storage costs of $16,964.34 and loss of business revenue of $25,393.50.

The plaintiff and the insurance carrier for Carlsen previously arbitrated the issue of the responsibility of the respective parties for the incident.

"The arbitration panel determined that Carlsen was not at fault for the accident, but that the accident was caused by the negligence of Defendant for improperly installing the tires on Carlsen's vehicle," the suit states.

Clarendon American Insurance Company is seeking a judgment for actual damages of less than $75,000, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the maximum legal rate, costs and other relief to which it is entitled.

It is represented by Loren R. Smith of Kelly, Smith and Murrah in Houston.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield of the 136th District Court.

Case No. D182-943

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