Jury Awards Over $7.1 Million to ELPO Law Clients in Truck Wreck
by Mandy Hicks
English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP (ELPO Law) announced today that a jury has awarded over $7.1 million to ELPO Law clients who were involved in a truck wreck in 2017.
Charles Basham and Jeff Basham have been in the towing and truck wreck business all of their lives. They have worked alongside their parents, who own Basham’s Towing, for as long as they can remember. Jeff and Charles, at the time of the wreck, also owned their own businesses repairing trucks and hauling heavy equipment respectively. Neither one of them ever imagined what would happened to them in the early morning hours of September 26, 2017.
On September 25, 2017 and into the early morning hours September 26, 2017 Charles and Jeff were cleaning up a prior wreck, where a tractor trailer hit a guard rail and caught fire on the side of I-65 at mile marker 40.2. Charles was in a bobcat scooping debris off the shoulder and putting it into a 30 cubic yard dumpster. Jeff was on the other side of the guardrail scooping up debris and putting it on the shoulder for Charles.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Jason Adkison had previously shut down part of I-65. His cruiser, with emergency lights illuminated and spotlight on, was in the slow lane. About a tenth of a mile ahead of Trooper Adkison, the Basham’s had placed a rollback wrecker with its lights activated in the slow lane and partially blocking the middle lane. The Basham’s were about two-hundred feet in front of the rollback wrecker cleaning up I-65. This left a more than three-quarters of a mile visibility for traveling motorists to see Trooper Adkison and the wreck site.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on September 26, 2017, Trooper Adkison notices two tractor trailers traveling North on I-65 in the middle lane towards him. Trooper Adkison clocks them traveling at 75 mph. The second tractor trailer is traveling so close to the first tractor trailer that Trooper Adkison cannot see his cab.
As they approach Trooper Adkison, the first tractor trailer moves over to the fast lane. The second tractor trailer, driven by Timur Chakhalov who is working for Road One Transport LLC, does not move over. Mr. Chakhalov drives by Trooper Adkison, almost striking him. According to Trooper Adkison, Mr. Chakhalov does not hit his brakes, take any evasive maneuvers, or attempt to move over to the fast lane. Mr. Chakhalov strikes the roll back wrecker which causes him to veer right and hit Charles who is in the bobcat. The impact sends the bobcat through the guard rail into the back of the backhoe, where his brother Jeff is seated. Mr. Chakhalov then hits the dumpster.
“What happened here in Warren County was the result of systemic failures on the part of Road One Transport and Mr. Chakhalov,” ELPO Law attorney Kyle Roby told the jury in his opening statement. “From how Road One hired Mr. Chakhalov to the way they failed to train and supervise him to the reckless indifference Mr. Chakhalov demonstrated on that night, this was a ticking time bomb that exploded at mile maker 40.2 on I-65.” Roby went on to explain, “This is not how trucking companies usually act, and this is not representative of the overall trucking industry.”
Through years of litigation, attorney Roby was able to discover how other trucking companies, AMEX Group of Illinois and AMEX Group of Washington, were formed and shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The principals of these groups were involved in the transferring of motor carrier numbers and the truck Mr. Chakhalov was driving that night. This is often referred to as a “shell game” where certain entities lose their ability to haul under the FMCSA and find other ways to continue hauling under other names or motor carriers. Within thirty (30) days of this wreck, the Washington State Police shut down Road One Transport.
The jury heard from Joey Stidham, an accident reconstructionist and trucking expert, who testified about Road One’s failure to hire Mr. Chakhalov in accordance with the FMCSA’s rules and regulations as well as their failure to train and supervise him. Mr. Stidham also provided the jury insight as to how this wreck was preventable.
As a result of this horrific collision, both Charles and Jeff were injured. Charles lost his business and is limited to lifting no more than twenty-five (25) pounds. Charles has had been through one surgery on his arm, has undergone countless procedures on his back and neck, and will undergo another surgery in the future.
The jury awarded Charles and Jeff more than $5.1 million in compensatory damages for the past and future medical bills, lost wages, destruction of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. The jury also awarded Charles and Jeff an additional $2 million dollars in punitive damages against Mr. Chakhalov and Road One.
“What happened on September 26, 2017 should not have happened,” Roby says. “We are pleased that the jury awarded the damages they did, but it will never replace the quality of life that Jeff and Charles lost because this wreck.” Roby went on to say, “Most truck drivers and trucking entities follow the rules and regulations and this is not reflective of all truck drivers or motor carriers, however, when safety rules and regulations that are designed to protect everyone are not followed, this is an example of what can result.”
For more information on legal services pertaining to truck and car wrecks, visit www.Injury.ELPOLaw.com or call 270-781-6500.