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Jury awards trucker $80M from former employer after fatigue-induced crash



EDINBURG, Texas — In a case that proves “going the extra mile” isn’t always a good thing, for anyone involved, a Texas jury awarded a professional truck driver $80 million Wednesday after it decided a 2015 crash in which the driver was severely injured was due to his employer having coerced him into falsifying his log book and driving beyond what federal Hours of Service regulations allow.

The jury in the case, held in 93rd District Court in Edinburg, Texas, awarded Lauro Lorenzo Jr. $5 million in compensatory damages for the loss of income as well as the injuries and the ensuing pain and suffering he sustained from the accident, which occurred when he fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended another truck on Interstate 59 in Alabama. The jury also ordered three companies: JNM Express, LLC; Anca Transport Inc.; and Omega Freight Logistics, LLC to each pay $25 million in punitive damages.

All three companies are owned by Jorge and Silvia Marin under the umbrella Marin Enterprise.

According to the original court petition, on May 3, 2015, Lozano had finished a run to San Antonio and had returned to McAllen, Texas. Lozano was due to take a 34-hour reset, per HOS regulations.

Lozano said that a few hours after he got home, Jorge Marin called him and told him he needed to make another run, that he should adjust his log to make it look as though he had taken his 34-hour reset.

According to Lorenzo’s lead attorney, Ray Thomas, “This was not an isolated deal.” Several drivers testified that this was a common practice at the Marins’ companies, that they were frequently pushed to drive beyond HOS limits.

According to Thomas, evidence showed that Lorenzo drove an average of almost 5,000 miles a week.

According to the petition, although Lozano was tired and initially objected, he feared for his job and went along with Marin’s demand. South Texas is not an affluent part of the country, Thomas said. Lorenzo has a special-needs son, and he couldn’t afford to miss even a week’s pay.

Lorenzo went to San Antonio and picked up his load at 5 a.m. the next day and set off to Maryland. On May 6, the accident occurred, in which Lozano sustained a traumatic brain injury, as well a crushed pelvis, a crushed foot and broken ribs.

“He was off work for several months,” Thomas said. In fact, he added, Lorenzo started dispatching for the Marins from his bed, before eventually trying to drive again.

Thomas said that in January Lorenzo reinjured his foot, which had six pins in it. He’s working for another carrier now, but with wire and pins holding his hip together, he has to pull up to a loading dock to get in and out of his cab. He’s planning within the next year or so to switch to dispatching full time.

“He’s a hard worker, he has a strong work ethic,” Thomas said. Despite the verdict, with appeals and other legal wrangling, it may still be some time before Lorenzo sees any money, and he’d rather earn a living than try to collect disability benefits.

Actually, Thomas said, this case is unusual, and it only came to be because the Marin Enterprise was not subscribed to the Workman’s Compensation Act.

“In Texas, the workman’s compensation system is voluntary,” Thomas said, but the vast majority of businesses subscribe to it, because if a worker gets hurt, they get benefits, or in cases of extreme injury, they can get a lump-sum payment. In exchange, the employer is protected from being sued by the employee.

When an employer is not subscribed and is sued by an employee, Thomas said, the employer cannot try to claim comparative responsibility or contributary negligence on the employee’s part. In other words, the employer can’t turn around and say the employee knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but they went along with it.

“The jury has sent a clear message that putting profit over the safety of not only their drivers but all drivers on public roadways will not stand,” Thomas said.

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ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index surges 7.4% in April



Compared with April 2018, the SA index increased 7.7%, the largest year-over-year gain since July. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index surged 7.4% in April after decreasing 2% in March. In April, the index equaled 121.8 (2015=100) compared with 113.4 in March.

“The surge in truck tonnage in April is obviously good for trucking, but it is important to examine it in the context of the broader economy,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “February and March were particularly weak months, as evidenced by the 3.5% dip in tonnage due to weather and other factors, so some of the gain was a catch-up effect. In addition, the Easter holiday was later than usual, likely pushing freight that would ordinarily be moved in March into April.

“I do not think the fundamentals underlying truck tonnage are as strong as April’s figure would indicate, but this may signal that any fears of a looming freight recession may have been overblown,” he said.

March’s reading was revised up compared with our April press release.

Compared with April 2018, the SA index increased 7.7%, the largest year-over-year gain since July.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 117.7 in April, 1% above March level (116.6). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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ACT says trailer order volume soft in second straight month



This chart compares trailer order volume for three years. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT Research’s preliminary estimate for April 2019 net trailer orders is 14,500 units.

Final volume will be available later this month. ACT’s methodology allows the company to generate a preliminary estimate of the market that should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.

“Order volume was soft in April for the second straight month. Several factors appear to be in play. OEMs continue to be reticent to fully open 2020 orderboards. This is evident in our measurement of the extent of the industry’s backlog, which has remained in the November or December timeframe throughout the first four months of 2019,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. “While we hear comments of some fleets anxiously awaiting the chance to snap up 2020 build slots, some also appear to be evaluating their existing commitments. Cancellations in April were the highest since August 2016 on both a unit and percent of backlog basis, and have remained elevated since December. That resulted in an interesting dichotomy in April orders; while new orders were actually up versus March, cancellations were significant enough to pull the net order number into the red month-over-month.”

Maly said while down slightly from March, production continues at a brisk pace, although material/component availability and staffing continue to challenge OEMs. Seasonal patterns actually called for a slight increase for April production, so that small sequential decline likely confirms the impact of the aforementioned headwinds.

“Additionally, our discussions indicate that red-tagged units continue to challenge OEM production efficiency,” he said.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets.

ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at

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Price of diesel inches up three-tenths of a penny



Overall, the price for the week ending was down 11.4 cents a gallon lower than last year.

WASHINGTON — The average on-highway price of a gallon of diesel increased three-tenths of one cent to $3.163 for the week ending May 20, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

The increase was precipitated by a 1.1-cent increase in the Rocky Mountain states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) and a 1-center increase in the Central Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland).

The largest decrease was five-tenths of a penny in the Lower Atlantic states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia).

Two regions remained the same as last week.

Overall, the price is down 11.4 cents a gallon lower than last year.

For a complete list of prices by region for the past three weeks, click here.


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