Three years ago Kevin Udy was killed in a tractor trailer collision. He was driving his pickup truck near Carlsbad, New Mexico, when a truck driver cut him off by making a left turn directly in front of Udy. Udy, a former senior mechanical engineer, left behind a wife and five children. Udy’s estate brought suit against the truck driver, the business that owned tractor trailer, the owner’s trucking company, and the management company that contracted work from the trucking company. Udy’s estate claimed that the truck driver had not received adequate training.
The trucking company also had poor vehicle maintenance record with a 37% out-of-service rate. The jury found all of the defendants negligent, and delivered a $58 million verdict, which the president of the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association, reports to be the largest verdict on New Mexico’s record. The jury found the truck driver to be 1% responsible, the business that owned the tractor trailer to be 9% responsible, the trucking company to be 20% responsible, and the management company to be 70% responsible. Of the $58 million, $47 million was awarded in punitive damages. The attorney for Udy’s estate, Bill Robins, issued a statement saying, “today a Santa Fe jury sent a clear message to the trucking industry, and to the oil and gas industry in particular, that those companies who choose not to follow safety rules and who place profits over human life, will be held accountable for the harm that they cause.” He also went on to say, “we trust that Kevin’s children will remember their father, will continue to live their lives in a manner that will honor his memory.”
Not only will Kevin Udy’s memory be cherished by his children, but his memory send the message to the trucking industry that it is now on notice that it will be held to a higher standard, which will hopefully help to prevent such a tragic losses in the future.