ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, Ark. — Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. is petitioning an Arkansas circuit judge for a new trial or a reduced jury award that went to six first responders who worked a fatal 2018 accident involving one of its rigs.
In court filings, the company’s attorneys called the $75 million award excessive after judgments of between $5 million and $25 million went to six first responders who were overcome by hazardous fumes after a pickup crashed head-on into an Old Dominion 18-wheeler that was hauling formic acid, according to an Arkansas Business report.
The acid is used in dyeing and finishing textiles and paper, as well as to treat leather and other chemicals. If it is set ablaze, the fumes can be deadly.
The big rig’s trailer, which caught fire after the wreck, had no placards on it indicating that it contained the hazardous material, according to court documents. In addition, neither the driver nor a company representative immediately told police that there were hazardous materials in the trailer, according to the original lawsuit.
The crash happened on U.S. Highway 70 near the St. Francis and Crittenden County lines in rural Arkansas, leaving the rig on its side.
Soon after arriving on scene, responders working the wreck noticed a strange odor and were overcome by fumes that were burning their nasal passages and throat, according to court documents.
Old Dominion attorney Zachary Hill called the ruling against the trucking company “shocking to the conscience” in his Dec. 22 motion. Hill also represents Aaron Marvell Foster, the driver of the rig that was involved in the accident.
Hill told Arkansas Business that he customarily does not comment on ongoing litigation; however, court filings lay out plans to file an appeal if his motion for a new trial fails.
The plaintiffs have remained at their jobs but have taken adjusted roles and assignments because of the injuries, Arkansas Business reported.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.