Family files lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride following fatal truck crash

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 29, 2013, 4:46pm

MARSHALL - The family of a deceased Titus County woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit that claims a motor vehicle collision was caused by a Pilgrim’s Pride driver stopping his tractor-trailer on the highway. 

Louis Michael Couch, individually and as the independent executor of the Estate of Donna Whitted Couch, Jennifer Ann Longway and Jessica Dale Graham filed suit against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Daniel Louis Heath on April 24 in Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The motor vehicle collision occurred on Oct. 23, 2012, in Camp County which caused the fatal injuries to Donna Whitted Couch. According to the lawsuit, defendant Heath, an employee of defendant Pilgrim’s Pride, was driving an 18-wheeler truck hauling a trailer southbound on U.S. Highway 271.

He missed his intended turn and proceeded to stop his truck and/or travel past his intended turn by driving so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, the suit states. Couch crashed into the back of the stopped or slow-moving Pilgrim’s Pride trailer. She died as a result of the injuries received in the crash and resulting fire.

The defendant is accused of negligence for driving so slowly as to impede the normal flow of traffic, driving at an unsafe speed, failing to inspect and clean the reflective tape on the rear of the trailer, failing to move into the right-hand lane while driving at an unreasonably slow rate of speed, failing to activate flashing hazard lights on the rear of the trailer, driving inattentively, failing to signal or giving the wrong signals, failing to yield the right-of-way to Couch traveling at a normal rate of speed, failing to conduct a pre-trip inspection of the truck, trailer, and reflective tape and for parking in a lane of traffic.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of wrongful death damages and survival damages, physical pain and mental anguish, health and mental care expenses, punitive damages, court costs, and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Frank L. Branson and Thomas J. Farmer of The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson PC in Dallas and Brent M. Langdon and Kyle B. Davis of Langdon Davis LLP in Texarkana. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00324

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