Ward sets aside $1.75M default judgment, allows injury case to continue

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 26, 2009, 8:26am


MARSHALL -- U.S. District Judge T. John Ward granted defendants' request to set aside a default judgment for more than $1.75 million. The default judgment was entered due to a lack of response from defendant Charlatte of America.

Poulikaeeva Fine filed the original lawsuit against Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprise Inc. and Charlatte of America Inc. on April 27, 2007, in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Employed by Evergreen Aviation Ground and working at the tarmac of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Fine was driving a luggage tug when he claims the steering wheel on the tug locked up on him and he ended up hitting a concrete wall.

Fine sustained a broken neck, a laceration to the forehead that needed 19 staples, and lacerations to both knees.

Although properly served with the complaint, the defendant failed to respond to the litigation, resulting in a default judgment.

Charlatte states the lack of response is due to "excusable neglect," including personnel turnovers and the agent's family having health issues.

Charlatte argued it has several defenses to Fine's claims that would change the outcome of the litigation if the case were allowed to continue to trial. The defendant presented an accident report and an Airfield Incident Report that states the plaintiff fell asleep at the wheel of the luggage tug thus causing the accident.

Judge Ward granted the defendant's argument and set aside the award.

The original complaint argues that Fine's employer, Evergreen Aviation, is negligent for failing to warn, advise or caution about the risks, hazards and dangers of driving the luggage tug, failing to conduct an analysis on those risks, failing to properly train the plaintiff, and failing to establish or follow safety guidelines or procedures for ensuring drivers exercised care while driving.

Further, the plaintiff states the "defendant knew other accidents involving the luggage tugs had occurred, yet Defendant did nothing to prevent further occurrences."

A year after the original complaint filing, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Evergreen Aviation from the lawsuit.

Defendant Charlatte of America, the manufacturer of the luggage tug, is accused of designing, manufacturing, marketing an unreasonably dangerous and not reasonably crashworthy vehicle.

The plaintiff states the defendant knew that the vehicle failed to contain a mechanism to prevent steering lockup and failed to contain any safety features to prevent injuries

The plaintiff also states the defendant breached implied warranties that the vehicle was fit for ordinary purposes.

The lawsuit will continue between Fine and Charlatte of America.
Fine is seeking damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, interference with daily activities, and a reduced capacity to enjoy life.

Dallas attorney E. Todd Tracy and Andrew G. Counts of The Tracy Firm is representing the plaintiff.

The defendant is requesting a jury trial.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is presiding.

Case No 2:07cv165

More News