Family seeks $15M after Mack Truck explodes, cite defect in battery system design

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 12, 2013, 11:44am

MARSHALL - The family of a deceased Rusk County man has filed a lawsuit claiming the deadly accident was caused by a head-on vehicle collision and because the man’s tractor trailer was negligently designed. 

Jennifer Mayfield, individually, as next friend of three minors and as representative of the Estate of Andrew Mayfield, deceased, and Jacklyn D. Mayfield filed suit against First Trucking Express Inc., Jose Pereira and Osvaldo Rodriguez and Mack Trucks Inc.

The suit was first filed on Nov. 8 in Harrison County District Court. The defendant removed the case to the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division on Dec. 6.

The accident occurred on Nov. 17, 2011, in Harrison County. According to the lawsuit, Andrew Mayfield was driving a Mack Truck with a trailer and was struck head-on by the defendants. Mayfield was killed when his vehicle crashed into the guardrail on the inside lane of Interstate 20 and exploded into flames.

Defendants Pereira and Rodriguez are accused of negligence for failing to maintain a proper lookout, failing to yield the right of way, failing to operate a vehicle at a safe speed and for failing to maintain their lane of traffic.

Defendant Mack Trucks is accused of negligence and strict liability for:

• Negligently designing the truck’s battery system by placing the battery box too close in proximity to the fuel storage system;

• Creating an ignition source;

• Negligently designing the battery box and its cables on the outside of the frame rails;

• Failing to adequately test and evaluate the integrity of the fuel storage system and battery system;

• Negligently marketing and selling the truck with knowledge of the truck’s battery box was within inches of its fuel storage system;

• Failing to adequately warn consumers; and

• Negligently marketing the truck as a safe vehicle.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of $15 million in damages for funeral expenses, conscious pain and suffering, loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel and reasonable contribution of a pecuniary value, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, emotional pain, torment and suffering and an award of $20 million in punitive damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by Shelly S. Jock and Ralph C. Jones of the Law Office of Ralph C. Jones PC in Dallas.  A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:13-cv-01060

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