Hale County Jury Returns Verdict Against Trucking Company

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Thursday, February 10th, 2011

A Hale County jury returned a $200,000 verdict following a civil trial involving a collision between a commercial tractor-trailer and a passenger car. On January 14, the jury issued its verdict, including both compensatory and punitive damages, against Richardson Trucking of Tuscaloosa County, and the driver of the 18-wheeler, Roannil Lee Fentress. Matt Glover and Josh Hayes of Prince, Glover & Hayes served as lead counsel during the four-day trial along with William Holmes of the Greensboro firm Seale, Holmes & Ryan.

The case involved a career truck driver who was driving his fully-loaded tractor-trailer at nearly 15 miles over the speed limit at the intersection of Highway 69 and County Road 32. Also occupying the cab of the tractor was an unauthorized passenger who the driver had picked up a few weeks before at a truck stop. That passenger testified that she and Fentress were in a heated argument in the moments before the wreck and the driver was actually throwing punches at her while driving down the road. The driver’s inattention caused him to leave the roadway on his right hand side. He then jerked the rig back up onto the road. This driving maneuver then caused his load of finished lumber to spill on both sides of the roadway and in the roadway itself, which in turn caused the wreck. The evidence presented at trial indicated that the company and its driver sought to keep both the fact that there was an unauthorized passenger in the cab, and her identity, away from the investigating authorities and the lawyers involved in the trial.

Fentress’ driving record before the wreck shocked both the judge and the jury in this case. In the four-year period preceding this preventable wreck, Fentress had his CDL (commercial driver’s license) suspended twice and had five wrecks and over 15 violations – including an excessive speeding ticket in a Richardson Trucking 18-wheeler.

A young woman and her 4 year old child were injured as a result of this wreck. Though their physical injuries were not life-threatening, the young mother still suffers back and neck pain to this day – almost 3 years after the wreck. Both mother and son have suffered psychological injuries as a result of the wreck and are still in treatment for these issues.

Josh Hayes praised the jury for its hard work in rendering a fair and impartial verdict. Hayes said, “This jury really worked hard on the case. They came in despite the weather issues caused by the snow and ice and paid close attention to the evidence presented. They came back with a verdict that sends a loud and clear message to the trucking companies of this country about how their drivers should safely operate on our roadways. And about how trucking companies have a responsibility to investigate the backgrounds of their drivers.”

Co-lead counsel Matt Glover stated, “The jury just couldn’t believe that a company would attempt to hide and cover-up evidence concerning this tragedy. We always believed that the good folks of Hale County would see through the company’s schemes.” He added, “I think folks want the roads they travel to be safe, and we just took a step in that direction with this verdict.”

Local attorney William Holmes had the following to say about the jury’s work in this case: “I was very impressed with how focused and attentive the jury was throughout the trial. I certainly appreciate their hard work and dedication in making sure that our client got a fair trial.”

All attorneys representing the young woman and her son said the Courthouse staff – especially Circuit Judge Marvin Wiggins, Sheriff Kenneth Ellis, Circuit Clerk Catrinna Long Perry, and Court Reporter Mia Turner – run a tight ship with which all the citizens of Hale County can be proud.

Prince, Glover & Hayes is a statewide law firm focusing on catastrophic personal injury cases and other cases where consumers have been injured or wronged and need help seeking justice against large, negligent corporations. For a free consultation please call 800-536-1105 or visit our website at www.princelaw.net.

Seale, Holmes & Ryan in Greensboro handles a wide area of cases ranging from personal injury to wrongful death to the general practice of law. The firm’s number is (334) 624-4001.


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