U-Haul International Inc. must pay $84 million to a 74-year-old man who was injured when the truck he rented ran over him when the parking brake failed. According to the man’s lawyer, “The truck’s parking brake did not work at all. He stepped out of the truck and it rolled right over him.”
A Dallas jury found U-Haul negligent and awarded Waldrip $84.25 million, including $63 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish a Defendant for improper conduct. Perhaps the jury was angry that the U-Haul truck had 234,000 miles on it. Or maybe the jury was outraged because evidence showed that six previous renters had similar problems with the truck. Yet U-Haul continued to rent it to the public.
Waldrip’s pelvis was crushed in the 2006 accident, leaving him unable to walk and with no bowel control. Instead of accepting responsibility, U-Haul said it would appeal the verdict. In fact, U-Haul stated that “The final verdict is another example of abuse of the legal system against corporate citizens in America.”
That’s an interesting perspective since in February 2008, U-Haul settled another case involving a defective parking brake on a truck that killed a customer in San Francisco. In that case, Demetrio T. Nagtalon was killed at a U-Haul center in San Francisco in December 2006, when he was crushed between a post and a rental truck.
Nagtalon had returned the truck because the parking brake didn’t work. A U-Haul employee was working on the brake when the truck suddenly began rolling forward. According to a police report, Nagtalon rushed to the cab, apparently trying to climb in to stop the truck, but was pinned against the post.
Where is the corporate responsibility?
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posted by Michael L. Neff
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