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Tampa Car Accident Lawyers > Blog > Truck Accident > Court Vacates $25M Punitive Damages Award in Truck Accident Lawsuit

Court Vacates $25M Punitive Damages Award in Truck Accident Lawsuit


A Pennsylvania plaintiff was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and another $25 million in punitive damages after he filed a truck accident lawsuit against a flooring company. However, a Pennsylvania judge decided that the $25 million punitive damages award was “clearly inappropriate” and tossed the judgment against the defendant, much to the defendant’s delight.

In this case, the defendant was a family-owned flooring company with only 4 trucks. The plaintiff was an independent truck driver. The accident that led to the lawsuit was a rare case of a tractor-trailer striking another tractor-trailer.

The accident occurred in December 2019. According to the accident report, the driver was driving a tractor-trailer under adverse weather conditions on U.S. Route 30 when it slammed into another tractor-trailer owned by the independent operator. The independent operator suffered a brain injury as a result of the accident which forced him to quit his job as a truck driver and close down his independently operated trucking business.

As a result of the ensuing litigation, a jury saw fit to award the plaintiff $1 million in compensatory damages and another $25 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff when the defendant’s conduct is so egregious that the jury sees fit to punish them with a hefty monetary award.

Reptile theory

 According to some civil defense attorneys, plaintiff’s attorneys employ a tactic known as “reptile theory” to inflame the passions of jurors and stoke their fear. In other words, they make claims like, “the only way to keep your family safe from potentially dangerous truck drivers is to punish their employers with nuclear verdicts so that they don’t make the same mistake again. To put it another way, the plaintiff’s attorney attempts to instill a revulsion in the jury toward the defendant. This tactic is supposedly effective at producing massive jury awards. In this case, the jury saw fit to punish the defendant for the accident with a $25 million punitive damages award on behalf of the plaintiff.

In many cases, however, trucking companies do cut corners when it comes to vetting their employees, allow their employees to violate the law when it comes to mandatory rest periods, or don’t adequately train their employees before unleashing them on the public. In these cases, the trucking companies are putting the public in danger, and it’s only a matter of time before someone is injured or killed due to their negligence.

In the case mentioned above, the plaintiff’s attorneys accused the defendant driver of speeding which led to the accident and increased its severity. They told the jury that the defendant should be punished for speeding and the jury agreed. However, a judge saw fit to vacate the punitive damages award. It remains unclear whether or not the plaintiff will appeal that decision.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Truck Accident Attorney Today 

The Tampa truck accident lawyers at The Matassini Law Firm represent the interests of those injured in truck accidents. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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