What Victims Need to Know About Litigation Against SpartanNash
After experiencing something as devastating as tractor-trailer collision, you may be understandably reluctant to take on the additional burden of litigation against those responsible. Unfortunately, based on our long experience taking on trucking companies, it's very unlikely that any other course of action will allow you to obtain fair compensation.
This is especially true in the case of SpartanNash, where the company's prior behavior evidences their determination to aggressively contest claims against them, even when their driver appears clearly at fault. Unless you have representation able to push back against their efforts, your success is far from guaranteed. Dallas semi-truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains how victims can protect their interests.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- What is SpartanNash?
- How many crashes involving injury or death has the company been involved in?
- What does the company's behavior in the Huynh case suggest about their approach to litigation?
What is SpartanNash?
Created out of the 2013 merger of Spartan Stores and the Nash Finch Company, SpartanNash controls the 87th largest private trucking fleet in the U.S. and generated more than $8 billion in revenue in 2018. Its 525 semi-trucks, operated by 476 drivers, traveled around 16 million miles that year.
Over the past two years, federal government data indicates the company's vehicles have been involved in 21 crashes, of which 6 have led to injuries and 3 have resulted in fatalities. It's important to note that this data can't tell us anything about who was responsible for any of these collisions, although it's likely that at least some of them can be attributed to a company driver's negligence.
While we may not have much information about most of these collisions, one 2017 case suggests how victims can expect the company to approach claims against them. Given the facts in the public record about this civil suit, victims should be prepared for a tough battle as they attempt to hold SpartanNash accountable. (We should note that our firm was not involved in any aspect of this case.)
The Lessons of Huynh v. SpartanNash for Victims
The relevant events of this case occurred in January of 2017 at the intersection of Macon Road and Technology Parkway in Columbus, GA. According to trial documents, George Hooks' SpartanNash semi-truck was traveling west on Macon and approaching the intersection when he turned left. In doing so, he failed to yield to Cindy Tran's motorcycle as it traveled east on Macon, leading the bike to clip the 18-wheeler's back end.
The impact ejected Ms. Tran from the bike, after which first responders pronounced her death at the scene. In the subsequent civil suit, the company's defense team initially tried to argue that Hooks could not have yielded to the motorcycle, because a pickup truck was blocking his line of sight, and he could not reasonably be expected to yield to a vehicle he could not see. We've seen similar arguments before, with companies stating that the sun was in their driver's eyes or that the flashing lights of a far-off ambulance temporarily blinded them.
Eventually, the company's attorneys abandoned this defense, accepting that their driver was entirely at fault, but attempting to argue that the $25 million requested by her family was excessive. (Just as a reminder, this objection came from attorneys representing a company that made several billion dollars in revenue that year.)
A jury ultimately resolved this case in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding Ms. Tran's estate $22 million in damages for wrongful death and $5 million for her pain and suffering. But an extensive legal battle was required to achieve that result, and without the efforts of attorneys with the experience to successfully prove what happened and convey it to a jury , there's no telling how small an offer her family might have had to accept.
This case is somewhat unusual in that the company responsible ultimately yielded to the weight of the evidence and admitted their sole responsibility for the collision. But even after doing so, they still did everything they could to reduce the extent of their financial obligation, arguing that $25 million for a "split-second mistake" was "way beyond what was reasonable."
This demonstrates the mindset of many trucking company executives: in their mind, they're essentially being held to ransom by an unreasonable plaintiff seeking an unjustified windfall. Consequently, unless you have help from an attorney able to obtain the evidence needed to prove your case and present it at trial in compelling fashion, obtaining fair compensation from the company is highly unlikely.
You might think, "I can tell a jury what happened in the crash myself, and I have plenty of pictures from when it happened to prove the truck driver was at fault. Why do I need to get an attorney involved?" But figuring out what happened and proving it in court requires lots of evidence, and virtually all of it, from hours-of-service logs to the semi-truck's maintenance logs, is likely to be in the hands of a company with every interest in not handing it over to you.
There are many potential causes of collisions involving commercial vehicles, and each has its corresponding piece of evidence. For example, if a company knew about a driver's history of careless behavior and hired them anyway, personnel records will be the only way to conclusively demonstrate it. And unless you have a valid subpoena compelling them to make those records available, there's nothing to stop them from simply refusing to do so.
In addition to the challenges that obtaining the evidence you need presents, using it to prove your case requires that it be verified and approved according to strict rules of evidence. Unless the proper procedures are followed to have them admitted, the documents, photos, and other data establishing the company's fault may as well not exist as far as the court is concerned.
Grossman Law Offices Is Ready To Protect Your Legal Interests
While every case involving commercial vehicles is unique in many respects, virtually all of them have a couple of things in common: the defendant will never settle without a fight, and winning that battle is incredibly challenging on your own. Given the vast amounts of money that corporations like SpartanNash have at their disposal, they're likely to have the advantage in any legal proceeding unless you have someone able to defend your interests.
At Grossman Law Offices, our thirty year history of successfully litigating commercial vehicle injury and wrongful death cases means we know how these companies think, and more importantly, how to hold them accountable. We also make a point of keeping you informed about the progress of your case without jargon or doubletalk, as our many satisfied clients can attest.
If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a SpartanNash semi-truck, please call (888) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with you.
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