Truck driver sued for allegedly causing deadly wreck on I-30

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 28, 2013, 1:37pm

MARSHALL - A Bowie County woman has filed a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against a truck driver and a trucking company, claiming the driver was reckless and caused a deadly wreck on Interstate 30. 

Sue Smith, individually and as next friend of T.S. and as representative of the Estate of Thomas Smith Jr., and Melanie Wagstaff filed suit against Dowell Transport Inc. and Bernard McDoniel on Oct. 22 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The incident occurred on June 25 when an 18 wheeler rear-ended a Dodge Caravan on I-30. Thomas Smith was driving the Caravan when he encountered slowing traffic and slowed his vehicle as a result. The 18 wheeler, driven by McDoniel, rear-ended the Caravan and caused Smith to suffer fatal injuries, according to the lawsuit.

Defendant McDoniel is accused of negligence for failing to keep such a lookout as a person of ordinary prudence would have kept under the same or similar circumstances, failing to timely apply the brakes of the 18 wheeler in order to avoid striking the Caravan, failing to maintain proper control of the 18 wheeler, for driving the 18 wheeler in a reckless manner, and for driving the 18 wheeler when not in an appropriate physical condition to do so.

Defendant Dowell Transport is accused of negligence for entrusting a commercial truck and trailer  to McDoniel when they knew or should have known that he was not properly qualified and was a reckless driver, for entrusting the truck to McDoniel in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, in hiring McDoniel to be a commercial driver without doing a proper background check on him, failing to properly and timely monitor and review the driving documentation of McDoniel including his log books, failing to properly train McDoniel in the safe operation  of the 18 wheeler and for failing to provide proper, adequate and on-going safety instruction to McDoniel regarding the safe operation of the 18wheeler.

Smith and Wagstaff are seeking an award of damages for pecuniary losses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship and society, physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of parental consortium, exemplary damages, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael E. Heygood and James Craig Orr Jr. of Heygood, Orr & Pearson in Dallas and Bruce A. Flint and Matthew Q. Soyars of Flint & Soyars LLP in Texarkana.

A jury trial is requested.

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

Case No. 2:13-cv-00845

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