A rural mail carrier was struck from the rear by a tractor-trailer at a high rate of speed. The plaintiff was rendered a paraplegic by the wreck and also lost sight in her right eye. Her husband pursued a claim for loss of consortium. The driver of the tractor truck had a substantial criminal record. Attached to the tractor truck was a trailer that had been leased by Defendant Motor Carrier Ezzell Trucking, Inc., and provided to the truck’s Owner-Operator for use in hauling its loads. Ezzell Trucking attempted to avoid liability by arguing it was an ‘exempt’ carrier from the FMCSR, and that the Owner-Operator operated as an independent contractor under its own DOT authority. Ezzell Trucking filed for summary judgment. At the hearing, we argued that Ezzell Trucking’s Agreement’s language with the Owner-Operator violated federal regulations; further, that Ezzell Trucking was still liable for the acts of independent contractors pursuant to federal regulations and case law. Summary Judgment was denied, and the case settled soon thereafter for $5.5 million.
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