FedEx Ground Settles With Family of Volunteer Fireman

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2016 | Personal Injury, Semi Truck Accidents, Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death

This case arose out of a deadly crash on December 17, 2008 on Interstate 90 when a FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. driver operated his semi-tractor-trailer combination too fast for conditions, lost control, and jackknifed.  The jackknifing tractor-trailer combination struck a volunteer firefighter’s emergency vehicle, which the firefighter had parked on the shoulder of the interstate with its emergency lights activated to protect and warn oncoming motorists of an accident ahead.The FedEx driver, Sergey Buslayev, was a Russian national who could just barely read and speak the English language. He admitted he saw the firefighters and emergency vehicles ahead of him nearly a mile east of the eventual collision point. He was driving the 50,000+ pound vehicle combination much too fast for conditions. The semi driver lost control of his tractor and two trailers and jackknifed. His vehicle combination crashed into our client’s truck, pushing it approximately 190 feet from its original location.  Our client died a short while after the collision from fatal injuries, as his fellow firefighters struggled to free him from the wreckage.Our client’s family sued FedEx in Montana U.S. District Court. After we briefed, argued, and obtained several court orders that benefited our clients, FedEx fired its original attorneys and hired new counsel for all defendants. By the time the case was over a total of six attorneys and four law firms had represented the various defendants.Throughout the case, defendants, including the semi truck driver and FedEx, maintained that the FedEx driver operated the semi with reasonable care and did nothing to cause the crash.  Defendants claimed that their victim’s emergency vehicle was in the roadway.However, aggressive pretrial investigation by David Paoli and experts he retained, including the downloading of the “black box” data in the semi truck, showed that the defendants’ explanation of how the crash occurred was untrue.  An accident reconstruction expert calculated the semi’s speed between 63 and 72 miles per hour at the time it was approaching the initial accident scene.  Both Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ accident reconstruction experts confirmed that the firefighter’s emergency vehicle was parked on the shoulder of the interstate.Investigation revealed several previous driving infractions by the FedEx Ground driver, including Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), careless driving in a commercial motor vehicle, failure to yield to emergency vehicle while operating a commercial motor vehicle, and speeding in a commercial motor vehicle.Further expert investigation revealed numerous violations by FedEx and the semi driver of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations including both the driver and co-driver’s inability to adequately speak and write English (both drivers’ depositions had to be taken with the aid of Russian/English interpreters/translators), numerous log book violations, and inadequate truck and trailer inspections.Our clients reached a confidential out of court settlement with the defendants shortly before trial.