Two married couples were traveling north on U.S. Highway 421 near Wilkesboro after a day of Christmas shopping. A tractor trailer, traveling south at a high rate of speed, overturned, crossed into the opposite lane, and crashed into their vehicle. All four individuals were killed. This stretch of road consists of approximately 5 miles of steep grade and curves. There are repeated warning signs on this stretch of highway alerting truck drivers of the sharp curves, steep grade, lower speed limit, and the need to use a lower gear.
A motor carrier in Tampa, Florida wrongfully hired the negligent driver to transport the load despite the driver’s criminal record and history of traffic violations. There was only $2 million in limited liability coverage available. However, the plaintiffs obtained judgments of $4.5 million for each estate at trial totaling $18 million. Despite the limited liability coverage, the parties ultimately settled all four cases for a total of $5.5 million which also included payment for a bad faith claim under Florida law, as well as payment under multiple UM/UIM policies.
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