$80 Million Verdict Against South Texas Trucking Company in Log Falsification Suit
(June 2019) - On May 7, 2019 a jury in Hidalgo County, Texas, awarded $80 million in damages to trucker Lauro Lozano following his allegations that the trucking company he worked for forced him to falsify his logs so that he could continue driving in violation of federal hours of service requirements.
Lozano was working as a driver at JNM Express, one of three trucking companies in McAllen, Texas owned by Jorge Marin and his wife. Lozano alleged that Marin forced him to falsify his logs so that he could continue driving and perform a 1,800-mile reefer haul from Texas to Maryland instead of taking his 34-hour restart. Following this, Lozano fell asleep at the wheel early in the morning on I-59 in Alabama, rear-ending another tractor trailer. The accident resulted in a number of serious injuries to Lozano, including abdominal trauma, a crushed pelvis, crushed left foot, and broken ribs.
None of the Marins’ trucking companies carried workers’ compensation insurance. This opened the companies up to liability for Lozano’s personal injuries and, under Texas law, meant they could not present a defense of contributory negligence on the part of Lozano. The jury awarded Lozano $25 million in punitive damages from each of the three companies, and $5 million in compensatory damages.
This verdict comes on the heels of two other multi-million dollar punitive awards from Texas in 2018: $101 million Patterson v. FTS International Manufacturing LLC et al., Case No. 356-15, in the District Court of Upshur County, Texas, and the $90 million Blake et al. v. Ali et al., case number 2015-36666, in the 127th District Court of Harris County, Texas.
Author: Leah Z. Dugan, Associate, Cleveland