SANTA FE, N.M. – A civil jury has found Werner Enterprises, one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S., negligent in a 2017 vehicle collision involving a student truck driver.
The accident occurred on the student driver’s eighth day of driving for Werner Enterprises, after graduating from Roadmaster Drivers School, owned and operated by Werner. The student driver crossed four lanes of traffic and a concrete median to collide head-on with Kathryn Armijo, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to evidence in the two-week trial, the Armijo family established with the jury that Werner, through its own inadequate operations and training programs for its student drivers via Roadmaster Drivers School, had a systematic disregard for basic safety policies and training of new drivers.
Werner, a company with more than US$2 billion in annual gross revenue, each year hires approximately 4,500 new drivers with no prior truck driving experience.
This is the second significant verdict against Werner Enterprises in the past 18 months. In May of 2018, Werner was hit with $89.6 million verdict by a civil jury for systematic safety and training failures in a multiple fatality case involving a student driver.
“Werner Enterprises and its subsidiary training program, Roadmaster Drivers School, continues to fail to provide proper training to its student drivers, particularly in critical emergency avoidance maneuvers, similar to those that led to this tragic crash,” said Craig Sico, the plaintiff’s co-counsel and founder and partner of Sico Hoelscher Harris.
“The trial evidence shows Werner, and its truck driving school, are doing the bare minimum to prepare new employees to safely drive 18-wheeler trucks, which are typically carrying 80,000 pounds of freight.”
“The jury’s verdict gives the public a greater understanding of the recklessness in which the trucking industry is operating,” said David Harris, plaintiff co-counsel and partner of Sico Hoelscher Harris.
“This is a pervasive problem across the industry – fleet operators must make a collective commitment to fix this dangerous dynamic and make major improvements in safety and employee retention.”