Pilgrim’s Pride sued after driver stops on highway and causes deadly collision

By Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau | Jun 24, 2013

MARSHALL - The family of a deceased Camp County woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride claiming that one of its drivers stopped a tractor-trailer on Highway 271 and caused a deadly collision. 

Louis Michael Couch, individually and is the independent executor of the Estate of Donna Whitted Couch, Jennifer Ann Longway and Jessica Dale Graham, filed suit against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. on June 17 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The accident occurred on Oct. 23, 2012, as Daniel Heath was driving a Pilgrim's Pride 18-wheeler truck hauling a trailer southbound on U.S. Highway 271 in Camp County. As Heath was approaching his intended left turn, he proceeded to stop his truck or drive so slowly as to impede the normal movement of traffic. Donna Couch crashed into the back of the stopped/slow-moving Pilgrim’s Pride trailer. She died as a result of the injuries suffered in the crash and resulting fire.

The defendant is accused of negligence for driving so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable 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 while driving at an unreasonable slow rate of speed, driving inattentively, failing to signal or giving the wrong signals, failing to yield the right-of-way, failing to conduct a pre-trip inspection, and for parking in a lane of traffic.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of wrongful death damages and survival damages for pecuniary loss, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance, pain and mental anguish, funeral and burial expenses, physical pain, 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 P.C. in Dallas, Brent M. Langdon and Kyle B. Davis of Langdon Davis LLP in Texarkana and T. John Ward and Bruce A. Smith of Ward & Smith Law Firm in Longview.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case. A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00498

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