MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas (PRNewswire) -- A Texas jury on Monday rendered a total award of $730 million to the survivors of Toni Combest, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who was killed in a 2016 collision with an oversize-cargo truck hauling a propeller for a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine.
The jury awarded $480 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, making it one of the largest wrongful-death verdicts in the nation.
The accident occurred on Feb. 21, 2016, when an oversize-cargo truck operated by Landstar Ranger, Inc. attempted to haul a 197,000-pound submarine propeller across a narrow bridge on U.S. Highway 271 in Titus County, Texas. As he approached the bridge, the truck’s driver left his authorized lane of travel and struck a vehicle driven by Combest at approximately 65 miles per hour. She died at the scene.
“When trucking companies are negligent, people die,” said Brent Goudarzi, a partner with Goudarzi & Young, LLP and an attorney for the plaintiffs. “The defendants in this case failed to maintain an effective lookout, failed to communicate with each other, and failed to ask for assistance from local and state law enforcement. This part of Texas is full of narrow bridges, and yet they had no plan for navigating them. I hope today’s verdict will stop anything like this from happening again.”
“Texas highways are getting more dangerous by the day, but our state lawmakers want to give big trucking companies a pass,” said Nelson Roach, a partner with Roach Langston Bruno LLP and an attorney for the plaintiffs. “In the last session, the Texas Legislature passed a law to protect trucking companies from having to disclose evidence in cases just like this one. Our state laws should place safety of Texans above the profits of truck companies.”