Trucker Awarded $80 Million in Coercion Case Against Trucking Companies
Hidalgo County, Texas – A trucker driver was awarded $80 million by a Texas jury this week after they found the trucker’s employer coerced him into falsifying his log book and operate while fatigued resulting in his injury.
In a suit filed by truck driver Lauro Lozano Jr. against Jorge and Silvia Marin (owners of Edinburg, Texas-based JNM Express, Anca Transport, and Omega Freight Logistics), Lozano alleged he was in fear for his job before taking a load bound for Maryland even though he was in violation of the federally regulated hours of service (HOS) rules.
The suit alleged Lozano had just finished a run to San Antonio and returned to the JNM Express “truck depot” in McAllen on May 3, 2015, and was due to take his 34-hour restart.
Lozano went home to take his restart when he says Jorge Marin called him after only a few hours and instructed him to haul a load, which was brokered by Omega Freight Logistics, to Maryland.
According to the suit, Lozano objected telling Marin he had just returned home, was due a 34-hour restart and was tired.
However, Marin pressed Lozano instructing him to falsify his log book and report to duty the next morning.
The complaint says Lozano, fearing for his job, did as he was instructed by Marin and reported to the McAllen yard at approximately 5 a.m. the following morning to pick up the load bound for Maryland.
During the early morning hours of May 6, 2015, on his way to Maryland, Lozano was traveling northbound on I-59 in rural Alabama when he fell asleep at the wheel and struck another tractor-trailer from the rear causing him to sustain “severe debilitating injuries”, according to the complaint.
The suit alleged Lozano then incurred significant medical expenses and loss of income, as a result of “gross negligence” on the part of Marin.
Lozano’s attorney argued Marin breached a number of duties owed to Lozano and the public including,
1.) a duty to exercise the degree of care, skill and competence that a reasonable and ordinary employer would exercise under similar circumstances;
2.) the duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid a foreseeable risk of injury to other persons; and;
3.) a duty to use ordinary care by not placing other in harm’s way.
Further, the suit alleged Jorge and Silvia Marin “created JNM Express, Anca Transport, and Omega Freight to shield their personal assets in a scheme to defraud creditors, including any employees injured or killed on the job.”
Additionally, Lozano’s representation argued the Marin’s “operate through several entities as part of a scheme to defraud regulators by evading safety regulations, such as Hours of Service regulation, endangering their drivers and the public.”
Even further, the complaint asserted the Marin’s “abused the corporate privilege of limited-liability in a manner intended to escape liability for any actionable negligence they might commit in the course of employing workers in the State of Texas.”
Lozano asked for damages to include: pain and suffering; mental anguish; loss of earnings and earnings capacity; physical impairment; physical disfigurement; necessary medical, therapeutic, pharmaceutical and hospital care, including rehabilitative services and devices; and loss of consortium.
The district court jury agreed with Lozano and voted unanimously to award him with an $80 million verdict.
Lozano was awarded $5 million for his pain and suffering and $25 million in punitive damages from each of the Marin’s three companies.
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