Fatal Thanksgiving Day I-10 pileup suits set for trial

By David Yates | Dec 9, 2013

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, a massive pileup on Interstate 10 lead two deaths, dozens of injuries and several lawsuits, which have been consolidated.

Those suits are set for trial, and two of Southeast Texas' biggest names in litigation will be in the courtroom -- Joe Jamail of Houston and Walter Umphrey of Beaumont.

Pre-trial of the complex litigation began Monday, Dec. 9, in Judge Floyd’s 172nd District Court.

Court records show that several of the collision suits have been consolidated into Case No. E194-251 – a suit filed April 18 by Damon Francois and two others.

That lawsuit also named Vincent Leggio Jr. as a defendant, which complicates matters as he is also a plaintiff in his own suit filed over the collision.

As previously reported, Vincent Leggio Jr., representing the Estate of Debra and Vincent Leggio Sr., filed suit against C.R. England, Richard Kerr, Tamika Francois and Cathryn Stegmoyer on Nov. 29, 2012, in Jefferson County District Court.

According to that lawsuit, on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012, the Leggios encountered several stopped vehicles blocking their lane of traffic on I-10 when Kerr, who was driving a tractor-trailer owned by C.R. England, failed to control his speed and struck their vehicle. Debra Leggio, 60, and Vincent Leggio, 64, were killed in the crash.

All the consolidated suits name Kerr and C.R. England as defendants.

Defendant C.R. England is accused of negligent entrustment, hiring, retention and training, and for the failure to properly and safely inspect, repair and/or maintain its vehicle.

Early morning fog may have led to the pileup, which eventually included more than 100 cars, according to local media reports. The Department of Public Safety and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported that 80 to 90 people were hurt, with 10 to 12 critically or seriously injured in addition to the two fatalities. It took more than eight hours to clear the interstate.

The incident caught the eye of several high-profile attorneys.

Leggio is represented by Walter Umphrey of Provost & Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont and Joseph D. Jamail of Jamail & Kolius in Houston.

Houston attorney Mark Lanier represents plaintiffs Francois, Terrance Bell and Devin Cash.

Case No. E194-251 

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