Snell & Wilmer attorneys recently defended Phenix Transportation West and its driver Ray Jackson in a trucking accident case. The trial lasted eight days and was tried in Maricopa County Superior Court. Kelly Wilkins tried the case with support from associate Amanda Sheridan, paralegals Alicia Roe and Jorge Moreno, and paralegal assistant Carly McEneaney.
The original plaintiff, driver of a 1973 VW Beetle with malfunctioning headlights, claimed to have received significant injuries after the left rear of her car was hit by the right front of a Phenix Transportation West tractor-trailer driven by Ray Jackson. The impact was at 12:34 a.m. on I-10 and Mr. Jackson claimed he saw no lights on the VW. Defendants disputed that she received any significant injury. She was taken by ambulance to a local emergency room, where she was diagnosed with minor neck and back strain and released. She later claimed she had broken both her feet in the impact, which led to months of surgeries and medications. She died of a prescription drug overdose 2½ years after the accident.
Her adult daughters continued the case as a wrongful death case, arguing that her overdose and death were caused by injuries she sustained in the accident. Plaintiffs claimed that Mr. Jackson was inattentive or distracted in his driving and falsified his driving log. Plaintiffs claimed that Phenix Transportation West did not train and supervise its drivers enough, did not cross-check driver logs, and argued that the truck’s camera would have captured video of the accident. Plaintiffs’ counsel suggested to the jury in closing argument that approximately $5 million would be an appropriate award.
Phenix and Mr. Jackson demonstrated that this was a minor impact and that Plaintiff did not sustain any injuries that led to her death 2½ years later. There was no mechanism of injury in this rear-end impact that would have caused the driver’s feet fractures. Mr. Jackson was driving attentively and was not distracted by anything, and he completed his logs properly and they matched his trip details. Phenix hired only experienced drivers and gave them sufficient supervision. Phenix audited its driver logs by people and software. No camera footage was captured or was ever available to Phenix from this incident.