Extensive discovery revealed the truck driver was recently promoted to a salaried office position where he was not regularly driving a truck, said Roth, who is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers. Under federal regulations, a driver of a truck cannot drive after working in any capacity for 70 hours in a period of eight consecutive days without 34 hours off duty. The plaintiff alleged that at the time of the collision the driver had been on duty for more than 70 hours.
Short driver weighed 400 pounds
The plaintiff also raised concerns regarding the truck driver’s physical qualifications to drive a truck. The truck driver was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed more than 400 pounds, and discovery in the case revealed the driver had been found at risk for sleep apnea but the company failed to follow up on the numerous warning signs regarding the driver’s physical qualifications, Roth said. Roth said that with the history of excessive daytime sleepiness, likelihood of untreated sleep apnea, and driving a truck in excess of his allowable hours of service, the truck driver likely fell asleep at the wheel.
The attorneys took the depositions of more than 15 of defendant trucking company’s employees, including the company’s Medical Director, to establish that untreated sleep apnea is a concern for the trucking industry and the safety of the motoring public.
Shortly before the scheduled depositions of the trucking company’s experts, the company agreed to settle for $11.6 million. The trucking company also indicated it would discontinue its practice of using salaried office workers to intermittently drive trucks and re-evaluate its program regarding driver health and physical qualifications, Roth said.