A jury in Texas awarded $84 million to a man who was injured when a U-Haul rental truck he rented ran him over because the parking brake failed. According to a Bloomberg News report, Talmadge Waldrip, 74, parked the truck on a slight incline and the parking brake failed. In his lawsuit against U-Haul, Waldrip alleged that U-Haul failed to maintain its vehicles properly and should be held liable for his injuries.
According to the article, Waldrip’s pelvis was crushed in the 2006 accident leaving him unable to walk and with no bowel control. Waldrip also alleged in the lawsuit that the truck with 234,000 miles on it was poorly maintained. U-Haul officials have said they will certainly appeal the verdict and that they find the damages awarded “outrageous.” A company spokesperson told the news service: “The final verdict is another example of abuse of the legal system against corporate citizens in America.”
A Dallas court found U-Haul negligent and awarded Waldrip a total of $84.25 million, a majority (about $63 million) in punitive damages. The verdict is reportedly the 11th largest jury award this year so far.
It is natural that the company would want to appeal a verdict of this magnitude. But for them to turn around and say that the plaintiff is taking advantage of them when he has suffered such debilitating injuries shows a certain disregard for the consumers they serve. Jurors in this case must have seen clear evidence that the parking brake on the truck had completely failed and must have been convinced that the company does a poor job of maintaining its vehicles.
The jury’s feelings are also evident in the fact that they awarded such high punitive damages. Jurors are sending out a clear message to U-Haul that the company needs to get its act together, that they are putting consumers in grave danger by failing to properly maintain their vehicles. This man could have well been run over and killed by that rental truck!
Apparently in February, the company had settled another case involving a defective parking brake on a truck that killed a customer in San Francisco. Hopefully, this verdict will send a wake-up call to company officials and help them to do the right thing by taking their defective vehicles off the road and stop to think about their customers before calculating their profits.