Wenholz | Dow prevails in Pedestrian 18 Wheeler Fatality Trial
On Thursday May 20, 2021, Wenholz | Dow, PC secured a hard fought $2,324,000.00 verdict against Harrison Trucking, LLC d/b/a Imperial Trading Company, LLC of Bossier City, Louisiana. The case was tried in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division before U. S. Magistrate Hon. Roy S. Payne. The jury found that Harrison Company and its driver Dejon O’Neil Jackson were negligent in operating their 18 wheel semi-tractor trailer on January 4, 2019 at 5:22 a.m. striking and killing Allan Onucko of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin.
Mr. Onucko was killed while walking on the shoulder of Interstate 20 trying to obtain gasoline for his disabled vehicle. Mr. Onucko’s three minor daughters, along with his widow Everlyne Nkadori, brought this lawsuit against the trucking company and its driver alleging their negligence contributed in causing Mr. Onucko’s death. The Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper investigating the accident, Trooper Chow, initially placed the point of impact in the middle of the interstate. However, both Plaintiff’s expert Dr. Eric Moody of Austin and Defendants’ expert Steve Irwin of Dallas agreed the area of impact could be closer to the shoulder since the first items of evidence were located in the grass near the shoulder. Further, the Defendant’s accident reconstruction expert testified that 40 of the 70 items of marked evidence were entirely on the right shoulder of the highway. Defendant’s expert, Steve Irwin, admitted on cross examination that the evidence suggested a 2-3 degree angle of impact that supported the Plaintiff’s theory that the truck drifted onto the shoulder striking Mr. Onucko and traveled back onto the interstate moving from right to left. Surprisingly, the truck driver testified that he never saw Mr. Onucko prior to impact and never called the police. Instead, the evidence revealed he called his boss and remained in the truck for almost 3 ½ hours before police arrived. The jury also learned there was no dash cam footage from the LYTX onboard dash camera, no driver’s logs and the truck driver disposed of his cell phone after Plaintiffs sent a preservation of evidence letter to the trucking company.
“The family is grateful to the jury for its service and in holding Mr. Jackson and his company accountable. This case hopefully will prompt Harrison Company to be proactive in coaching and actively training their drivers to protect public safety.” Luke Dow, lead counsel for the Plaintiffs recounted. “It takes courage for a widow and three small girls to stand up to a large interstate trucking company. Harrison for years refused to accept any responsibility for this accident so I am thankful for the jury’s verdict and am proud of my trial team. The family wants Mr. Onucko’s death to lead to safer conditions for all of us.” Luke Dow said.