Jury hits Swift with $36.5 million judgment in fatality case

| Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Swift Transportation Co. could not produce a driver’s log book following a fatal wreck, and a jury has awarded the victim’s family $36.5 million in damages.

The jury’s verdict came Friday, Nov. 30, following a four-week trial in connection with an April 2004 wreck near Hutchinson, KS. That crash resulted in the death of 57-year-old Thomas Steven, a father of eight. His children ranged in age from 13 to 26 at the time of the incident. Steven’s survivors filed the suit against Swift in July 2004.

According to press and police reports, the fatality occurred when the Swift driver, Kevin Jones, was driving 65 mph on Kansas Highway 61 leading up to the intersection with U.S. 50, which is a stop sign-controlled intersection.

The Tucson Citizen reported that, according to the victim’s family, the Swift driver passed over three separate sets of rumble strips designed to warn drivers of the upcoming stop sign. He then ran through the stop sign and hit Steven’s Chevy Suburban, killing him and seriously injuring two passengers in the Suburban.

The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the Swift driver may have been fatigued at the time. But Swift officials said they couldn’t produce the driver’s log book, which might have shed some light on the question of fatigue.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that more than $13 million of the jury’s award was for punitive damages, which are assessed as a punishment.

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