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Jury awards trucker $80M from former employer after fatigue-induced crash

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EDINBURG, Texas — In a case that proves “going the extra mile” isn’t always a good thing, for anyone involved, a Texas jury awarded a professional truck driver $80 million Wednesday after it decided a 2015 crash in which the driver was severely injured was due to his employer having coerced him into falsifying his log book and driving beyond what federal Hours of Service regulations allow.

The jury in the case, held in 93rd District Court in Edinburg, Texas, awarded Lauro Lorenzo Jr. $5 million in compensatory damages for the loss of income as well as the injuries and the ensuing pain and suffering he sustained from the accident, which occurred when he fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended another truck on Interstate 59 in Alabama. The jury also ordered three companies: JNM Express, LLC; Anca Transport Inc.; and Omega Freight Logistics, LLC to each pay $25 million in punitive damages.

All three companies are owned by Jorge and Silvia Marin under the umbrella Marin Enterprise.

According to the original court petition, on May 3, 2015, Lozano had finished a run to San Antonio and had returned to McAllen, Texas. Lozano was due to take a 34-hour reset, per HOS regulations.

Lozano said that a few hours after he got home, Jorge Marin called him and told him he needed to make another run, that he should adjust his log to make it look as though he had taken his 34-hour reset.

According to Lorenzo’s lead attorney, Ray Thomas, “This was not an isolated deal.” Several drivers testified that this was a common practice at the Marins’ companies, that they were frequently pushed to drive beyond HOS limits.

According to Thomas, evidence showed that Lorenzo drove an average of almost 5,000 miles a week.

According to the petition, although Lozano was tired and initially objected, he feared for his job and went along with Marin’s demand. South Texas is not an affluent part of the country, Thomas said. Lorenzo has a special-needs son, and he couldn’t afford to miss even a week’s pay.

Lorenzo went to San Antonio and picked up his load at 5 a.m. the next day and set off to Maryland. On May 6, the accident occurred, in which Lozano sustained a traumatic brain injury, as well a crushed pelvis, a crushed foot and broken ribs.

“He was off work for several months,” Thomas said. In fact, he added, Lorenzo started dispatching for the Marins from his bed, before eventually trying to drive again.

Thomas said that in January Lorenzo reinjured his foot, which had six pins in it. He’s working for another carrier now, but with wire and pins holding his hip together, he has to pull up to a loading dock to get in and out of his cab. He’s planning within the next year or so to switch to dispatching full time.

“He’s a hard worker, he has a strong work ethic,” Thomas said. Despite the verdict, with appeals and other legal wrangling, it may still be some time before Lorenzo sees any money, and he’d rather earn a living than try to collect disability benefits.

Actually, Thomas said, this case is unusual, and it only came to be because the Marin Enterprise was not subscribed to the Workman’s Compensation Act.

“In Texas, the workman’s compensation system is voluntary,” Thomas said, but the vast majority of businesses subscribe to it, because if a worker gets hurt, they get benefits, or in cases of extreme injury, they can get a lump-sum payment. In exchange, the employer is protected from being sued by the employee.

When an employer is not subscribed and is sued by an employee, Thomas said, the employer cannot try to claim comparative responsibility or contributary negligence on the employee’s part. In other words, the employer can’t turn around and say the employee knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but they went along with it.

“The jury has sent a clear message that putting profit over the safety of not only their drivers but all drivers on public roadways will not stand,” Thomas said.

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Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index falls 1.1% in June, but 1.5% higher than June 2018

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Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1% in June after falling 4% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.2 (2015=100) compared with 116.5 in May.

“Tonnage continues to show resilience as it posted the 26th year-over-year increase despite falling for the second straight month sequentially,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The year-over-year gain was the smallest over the past two years, but the level of freight remains quite high. Tonnage is outperforming other trucking metrics as heavy freight sectors, like tank truck, are witnessing better freight levels than sectors like dry van, which has a lower average weight per load.”

May’s reading was revised up compared with our June press release.

Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 117.6 in June, 3.3% below May level (121.7). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

 

 

 

 

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JK Moving modernizes moving with mobile app and virtual AI estimating options

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The JK mobile app enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. (Courtesy: JK MOVING)

STERLING, Va. — JK Moving Services, a global moving, storage, relocation and logistics enterprise, says it has added new technologies to further modernize the move experience for customers, including a mobile app to help the customer manage the move process and software to do virtual estimates with either a real person or by an artificial intelligence interface.

“Great technology makes for better moves and that’s why we invest in cutting-edge solutions. Mobile apps and AI are now part of our customer tool kit,” said CEO Chuck Kuhn. “Giving clients choices in how they work with us helps us meet a variety of customer needs and styles.”

Kuhn said JK’s tech team had created a downloadable mobile app that enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. The app is monitored 24/7 by the JK team.

Since this custom app was developed in-house, JK is able to incorporate feedback and improvements quickly, Kuhn said, adding that the mobile app complements new estimating software that clients can use to get a virtual estimate.

The client gives a tour of their house with their phone to their choice of a real or AI representative. The AI estimating software recognizes shapes of objects and makes an inventory list. From that tour, JK can provide an estimate and send it to the mobile app. Estimators still are available to come to someone’s house if that is what the client prefers.

“Going mobile improves our customer offerings since many clients want products that are seamless, easy and quick. We’re receiving terrific feedback for our new mobile app and virtual estimating. These tech advancements put us at the forefront of the residential moving business,” said David Cox, executive vice president, residential, JK Moving.

Cox said the mobile app also reduces the use of paper, which is good for the environment. Environmental stewardship is part of the JK culture and a consideration in many of the company’s innovations.

“In fact, JK was one of the first on many environmentally friendly practices, including: ordering Tesla semi moving trucks, embracing new technologies that will further its aggressive carbon emissions-reduction goals, leading with box-less moves and major recycling efforts, and starting a chemical free community farm,” he said.

Another recent modernization includes the addition of dashcam technology in its whole fleet. These cameras are installed in the truck cabs. When a trigger event happens, such as a sudden stop or jostling movement, a 12-second video clip gets sent to DriveCam, a third-party vendor that monitors and evaluates the incidents. DriveCam sends JK feedback when opportunities arise to improve driving behaviors, enabling JK to provide customized training to drivers. The dashcams have resulted in employees improving their driving skills and experiencing fewer triggering events, resulting in fewer accidents and a reduction in claims.

 

 

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