A record-setting $27.5 Million settlement was negotiated in a negligence lawsuit brought by Texas attorneys Rob Ammons and Jim Dunnam against Sanderson Farms and the employee who was driving the company’s pickup truck. The lawsuit alleged that Sanderson Farms’ employee failed to control his speed and keep a proper lookout when he violently rear-ended a sedan whose driver, a 24-year-old Texas woman whose 2-year-old and 15-day-old sons were passengers in the car, was slowing down to turn left on a Waco roadway. The damage to the sedan was extensive.
The collision resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury to the newborn boy which has left him with devastating long-term problems which affect his learning, vision, physical and mental development, and motor functions. According to his doctors, the child will require care and assistance for the rest of his life, the costs of which have been projected by a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation to be over $8 million dollars. The boy’s mother sustained orthopedic injuries requiring surgery and also developed a depressive disorder as a result of the traumatic incident and her son’s catastrophic injuries.
Because the employee was on the job at the time of the collision, the lawsuit alleged that Sanderson Farms was legally responsible for his negligence. But counsel for the injured victims also made allegations of independent negligence against Sanderson Farms because the company had not implemented a driver safety program for employees who were required to operate its non-commercial vehicles and had failed to promote a “drive safely” culture. Ammons points out that the company’s safety and health manager testified in deposition that there were no policies or procedures in place at Sanderson Farms to manage noncommercial vehicles and drivers—even when driving such a vehicle provided by the company was essential to one’s job performance. Nor was there any written policy on investigating crashes to learn valuable lessons that could be shared with the company’s employees. Ammons also contended that Sanderson Farms had this particular employee working long and irregular hours, which prevented him from getting the proper rest needed in order to safely operate the company’s vehicles.
The settlement is reported to be the largest of its type in the Texas county where the suit was filed.
The Ammons Law Firm has a nationwide personal injury practice focusing on tire defects, truck accidents, rollovers, consumer protection and product liability, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, air bag defects and plant explosions.