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Truck Death – The James Garrett Story
On June 1, 2006, Beverly Garrett, 57, Beulah Hunter, 94, Elois Jeans, 81, and Anita Gibbs, 55, were driving in a Ford 500, on Interstate 70 in Callaway County, Missouri, to a 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration in Illinois. The traffic was stopped for the clearing of an earlier traffic accident that day, approximately 30 miles east of Columbia, Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation (DOT) had DANGER signs and a flagman posted everywhere, warning traffic of this major congestion.
George Albright, driving a 70,000-pound tractor-trailer back to Tennessee, fell asleep at the wheel and did not see all the warning signs; slamming into this stopped line of cars, scattering them like bowling pins and instantly killing Beverly, Beulah, Elois and Anita. According to Albrights initial statements, he said he arrived in Columbia, Missouri, at approximately 6 AM, and had slept for 10 hours and 45 minutes before starting his trip back home. Albright, and his company officials adamantly denied that fatigue played any role in the wreck.
Of course, a gaping hole remained in terms of an explanation. How could someone drive a 70,000-pound tractor-trailer into stopped traffic if he was not asleep at the wheel? Eye witnesses provided statements to the police indicating that they saw Albright nodding off at the wheel just a couple of miles prior to the crash site. Yet all of the defendants maintained Albright was bright eyed and bushytailed! Thanks to modern technology, Albrights cell phone records clearly showed that he was in St. Louis, Missouri, approximately three hours east of Columbia at 6:50 AM on the date of the wreck, and that Albright had falsified and lied in his log books.
When confronted with his cell phone records, Albright admitted that he had lied and falsified his logs, and that he didn’t take the 10 hours of rest required by federal regulations. Additionally, in court it was discovered that approximately one third of Albrights logs were missing from the six months leading up to the date of the wreck. Obviously, nobody was monitoring this driver and, more importantly, no one was taking responsibility for his actions.
Ken McClain and Danny Thomas, Partners at the law firm of Humphrey, Farrington McClain, P.C., represented the victims in this case. Ken and Danny use three criteria when analyzing catastrophic cases like this:
1. Is there liability?
2. Are there damages?
3. Is there a defendant with an ability to pay?
All too often one of the pieces is missing. In this case liability and damages were obvious. This was a horrific wreck that took the lives of some wonderful human beings. However, early discovery responses revealed there was a barely any insurance to compensate all of the victims. Undeterred, Ken and Danny made a conscious decision that this wreck was too horrific and the negligence too gross to advise their clients to accept the paltry insurance proceeds But there was a real big problem: initially no one knew who the trucking company was at fault.
The DOT number came back to a company called Pro Logistics of Warren, Michigan. The owner of the vehicle was a company called GLS Leasco, also of Warren, Michigan. More confusing, the vehicles registration came back to another entity called Logistics Services. Through the investigative research of Humphrey, Farrington McClain, P.C., all of these companies amazingly were headquartered out of the same building: 12225 Stephens Road.
Additionally, it was also revealed that there were several other companies that had a role in the trucking operation: Logistics Insight and Central Transport, both of which were headquartered out of 12225 Stephens Road. Through extensive investigative work and over 60 Depositions, it was discovered that all of these companies were owned by a single holding company, Centra, Inc., and they all operated out of the same building at the time of the wreck.
In fact, Centra owned approximately 50 subsidiary companies, most of which operated out of the same building. The corporate overlap among these companies was astonishing. It was a major corporate shell game designed to deceive the public into thinking they had no assets. Companies like GLS were true shell corporations. Though GLS officially owned thousands of tractor-trailers it did not have a single employee. Who the heck was running this multi-million dollar company?
Today, the Insider Exclusive presents: Truck Death – The James Garrett Story. How Ken McClain and Danny Thomas of the law firm Humphrey, Farrington McClain, P.C., unraveled this corporate shell game and got justice for these innocent victims, reaching an $18 million settlement. And in so doing have earned the highest respect from citizens and lawyers alike as one of the best plaintiffs’ trial lawyers in Missouri and in the nation. Kenneth B. McClain began his firm’s asbestos practice in 1984, when he represented the Independence, Missouri school district. It was the first case in the country to return a verdict for a school district to recover the cost of removing asbestos from a building. Since then, Ken has represented asbestos personal injury victims and owners of buildings contaminated by asbestos across the United States. On October 6, 1997, he settled the first individual tobacco tort action in New York for Janet Sackman, the Lucky Strike poster model. A 1982 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Ken is a nationally recognized trial lawyer specializing in toxic tort cases throughout the country. Danny Thomas dedicates his practice exclusively to representing victims of catastrophic injuries and wrongful death involving trucking accidents, motor vehicle accidents, product defects, nursing home litigation and medical malpractice. This tenacity comes from serving on active duty in an elite Military Police unit within the United States Marine Corps and being a member of a law firm that has successfully taken on virtually insurmountable odds and institutions in the area of toxic torts including tobacco and popcorn lung disease.
Humphrey, Farrington McClain, P.C. is a 16-attorney firm located in Independence, Missouri. Our dedicated attorneys, paralegals and numerous support staff are experienced in handling asbestos bodily injury claims and building-contamination claim, as well as other tort and complex litigation matters involving toxic substances.
You can contact Ken McClain and Danny Thomas at 816-836-5050, or www.hfmlegal.com