Jury Awards $730 MILLION to Family of Woman Killed in Crash With Truck Hauling Superload

Mount Pleasant, TX — The family of a woman killed in a crash with a big rig hauling a superload has been awarded an astonishing $730 million.

On November 22, 2021, a Texas district court jury rendered the nuclear verdict in favor of the survivors of Toni Combest, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who was killed in a 2016 collision with an oversize-cargo truck hauling a propeller for a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine.




 

Specifically, the jury awarded $480 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

The massive award is one of the largest wrongful-death verdicts in U.S. history.

What Happened?

The accident occurred on February 21, 2016, when a big rig operated by Landstar Ranger, Inc. attempted to haul a 197,000-lb. submarine propeller across a narrow bridge on U.S. Highway 271 in Titus County, TX.

As he approached the bridge, the truck’s driver left his authorized lane of travel and struck a vehicle driven by Mrs. Combest at approximately 65 miles per hour.

She was declared dead at the scene.




 

A key in the trial was video evidence captured by the dash camera located in the rear escort vehicle which attorneys for the plaintiff provided images from.

 

“The lead pilot escort vehicle ran Mrs. Combest off of the roadway just as Mrs. Combest was rounding the blind curve that would take her onto the skinny bridge,” a statement from the plaintiff’s legal counsel said. “Upon entering the bridge, Mrs. Combest was faced with a tractor and load that was almost completely within her lane. The driver of the tractor was able to swerve his vehicle out of her lane, but he was not able to remove the 16’ wide load from her path before the load struck her vehicle and caused a violent explosion of debris.”




 

According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, Landstar Ranger, Inc. settled less than one week prior to jury selection for $50 million.

S&M Pilot Service, the employer of the rear escort driver, also settled just prior to trial for $1 million.


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The trial went forward against 2A Pilot Cars, the employer of the front escort vehicle.

“When trucking companies are negligent, people die,” said Brent Goudarzi, a partner with Goudarzi & Young, LLP and an attorney for the plaintiffs. “The defendants in this case failed to maintain an effective lookout, failed to communicate with each other, and failed to ask for assistance from local and state law enforcement. This part of Texas is full of narrow bridges, and yet they had no plan for navigating them. I hope today’s verdict will stop anything like this from happening again.”

No criminal charges were brought in the case.

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