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What Victims Should Know About Litigation Against FTS International

When most people are injured in a collision involving a tractor-trailer, the last thing on their mind is the prior behavior of the trucking company that hit them. While this is understandable, it could also leave them unprepared for what they're likely to face as they attempt to obtain compensation for the many costs resulting from the wreck.

Most of us will continue to do what works for us until we're given adequate incentive to change, which means that how a company has acted in the past can be an important guide for how they may act in the future. For FTS International, which was recently punished by a jury with a massive judgement, their prior behavior should give victims pause about how they might approach your case. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is FTS International?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
  • What lessons does the company's behavior in connection with the Patterson case have for victims?

Crash statistics from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data

What is FTS International?

Founded in 2000 as Frac Tech Services, oilfield services company FTS International currently owns the 26th largest private trucking fleet in the U.S., with roughly 1,200 vehicles driven by around 800 drivers. It specializes in hydraulic fracturing services and generated $1.5 billion in revenues in 2018.

Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 13 crashes, of which 5 resulted in injuries. Thankfully, none of these crashes led to fatalities. We should note that this data alone doesn't tell us anything about who was responsible for these incidents. However, it's likely that the negligence of the company's employees caused at least some percentage of them.

While this data doesn’t include much specific detail about many of these crashes, there’s at least one incident in the public record that creates plenty of cause for concern. Although the facts of this particular case appeared to clearly place the fault on FTS, it still required significant legal effort to prove to the satisfaction of a jury that the company should be held responsible.

The Lessons of the Patterson Case for Victims

Our civil justice system has two purposes: to make victims whole for the losses they suffer as a result of someone's negligence, and to deter those who harmed them from similar behavior. To keep these two objectives separate, juries are allowed to award two types of damages: general damages and punitive damages.

While it may comes as a surprise, given how often they're criticized, punitive damages are rarely awarded in civil cases. This is largely because awarding them requires that a jury be convinced, not just that the defendant acted carelessly, but that their negligence was "willful, malicious, or fraudulent." In other words, their conduct has to have been shockingly and obviously irresponsible in terms of the risk it creates for the public.

This makes the over $100 million judgment against FTS International, of which $75 million was composed of punitive damages, that much more incredible. (Note that our firm was not involved in any aspect of this case.) The underlying events took place in 2013 on US Highway 259, when Bill Acker's semi-truck struck Joshua Patterson's Ford F-150 from behind. While he initially felt fine, Mr. Patterson was eventually diagnosed with severe neck and back injuries requiring surgical treatment and preventing him from returning to work. (This illustrates the importance of seeking medical attention as soon as possible after a commercial vehicle collision.)

To be sure, Mr. Acker was egregiously negligent in this case, as a drug test administered following the wreck found him to be under the influence of both marijuana and cocaine when it occurred and he failed to control his speed to avoid the collision. However, the jury's massive punitive damages award was largely based on a legal doctrine known as negligent selection, in which a jury determines that a company's failure to properly vet new employees is responsible for any injuries or deaths that result.

This case underscores the importance of having experienced legal help to find out the real story behind any commercial vehicle crash.

In the case of FTS, that negligence included failing to recognize that the operator responsible for the wreck had falsified documents proving his completion of safety training required of new drivers, and not administering the official drug test their policies required for new hires. Mr. Acker was also allowed to remain on the road after receiving three traffic citations, despite a company policy that should have resulted in his termination under those circumstances.

I don't point all this out just to heap scorn on the company, and certainly one would hope that an incident this egregious would result in some serious changes to prevent a similar situation in the future. But whether it does or not, this case underscores the importance of having experienced legal help to find out the real story behind any commercial vehicle crash.

While attorneys for the victim in this case were ultimately able to hold the company accountable with a significant judgment, the evidence required to demonstrate the company's negligence, from the post-crash drug test to the forged documents, would have been totally out of their reach without a well-drafted subpoena.

Even if your case doesn't involve negligent selection, the burden is on you to prove that the carelessness of the commercial driver caused your injuries. And that requires evidence that only an attorney will be able to obtain, from a trucking company with no incentive or obligation to surrender it.

Grossman Law Offices Is Ready to Litigate Your Claim Against FTS International

Negligent retention is just one of the potential causes of a commercial vehicle crash that may be uncovered in the course of a thorough independent investigation. And only a semi-truck accident attorney will be able to conduct one successfully and use the evidence uncovered to make the trucking company do the right thing.

At Grossman Law Offices, we've been successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident cases for almost thirty years, so we have all of the tools required to fully investigate the collision that caused your losses. Once that investigation is complete, our veteran attorneys can use that evidence to obtain a judgement that makes you whole and hopefully deters the trucking company from future negligence.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving an FTS International semi-truck, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions.

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