LOS ANGELES, Nov. 9, 2017 — The final four lawsuits against trucking and logistics giant FedEx Freight settled this Tuesday on the eve of trial for a confidential amount. These are the last of 46 total settlements, which ends the contentious litigation stemming from the April 2014 bus crash.
The driver of a FedEx Freight tractor-trailer crossed over the center median of I-5 in Orland, CA and struck a charter bus carrying high school students from Southern California who were going on a tour of Humboldt State University. The crash and resulting fire killed 9 occupants of the bus and injured 36.
“We looked forward to exposing the truth at trial about what caused this horrific collision, including evidence that FedEx Freight drivers routinely engaged in dangerously distracted driving and would violate policy by using their cell phones to text, call and surf the internet while driving tractor-trailers,” said co-lead plaintiff attorney Christine Spagnoli. “This settlement will allow the survivors to move forward and begin rebuilding their lives,” said Spagnoli.
The plaintiffs' legal team had uncovered evidence not seen by investigators that showed the FedEx truck driver, Timothy Evans, was using his cell phone two minutes before the crash and used his phone daily while driving. The defense contended the driver had suffered a medical emergency that left him incapacitated. However, the plaintiffs rejected this argument, citing there was no evidence of a medical event, the driver had a clean bill of health and that FedEx's own experts confirmed the driver was in control of the truck when he steered into the median.
“This driver had a history of repeatedly violating FedEx's cellphone policy while driving,” said co-lead plaintiff attorney Paul Kiesel. “We hope this resolution will lead to FedEx changing its policy to ensure its drivers get better training about the risks of distracted driving while operating vehicles,” he added.
The jury would have heard the story of one of the students, Harley Hoyt, whose case was selected for the lead trial to determine if FedEx Freight was responsible for the crash. “These kids were inspirational First Timers or first in the family to go to college. Instead of being left with memories of one of the most exciting days of their lives, they were left with deep emotional wounds after experiencing the most terrifying ordeal that could only result when a truck driver drives distracted,” said one of Hoyt's lead attorneys, Arash Homampour. “This resolution will provide them with the closure and resources they need to continue the path to recovery.”
“Nothing will erase the painful memories of what happened that day, but I'm relieved that the litigation is over and that I can put this ordeal behind me so I can focus on the next chapter of my life,” said Harley Hoyt.
The plaintiffs' trial team included Christine Spagnoli with Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, Paul Kiesel of Kiesel Law and Arash Homampour of the Homampour Law firm.
CONTACT: Gina Fernandes
SOURCE Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
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