Oregon jury renders $5.2 million verdict against driver, trucking broker

By Land Line staff | 3/21/2012

An Oregon Jury has awarded $5.2 million to the family of a truck driver killed by a tractor-trailer in 2008.

It’s just who will pay that $5.2 million that’s raising eyebrows in trucking.

In 2008, Washington Transportation driver Daniel Clarey was “apparently coming off a crystal methamphetamine high” and falling asleep when he plowed into trucker Kelly Linhart, according to a news release from the plaintiffs attorney. Linhart was reportedly standing near the highway’s shoulder inspecting his vehicle’s brakes on Interstate 5 near Ashland, OR.

Washington Transportation had been hired to haul a load of bottled water by transportation broker Heyl Logistics of Sioux Falls, SD.

It was later discovered that Washington Transportation didn’t have insurance and was hauling loads without operating authority.

A jury determined in late February that both Clarey and Heyl Logistics were at fault, and awarded Linhart’s adult children $5.2 million. The verdict appears to be the first such case to levy punitive damages against a transportation broker based on a negligent hiring claim, the news release said.

Ohio attorney Michael Leizerman reportedly said in court that Heyl Logistics didn’t perform due diligence before doing business with Seattle-based Washington Transportation.

Washington Transportation was owned by Eric Rangeloff, and Eric’s twin brother, Forrest Rangeloff, operated the company. Washington Transportation has been placed out of service, according to FMCSA’s SAFER website.

The Rangeloffs had a checkered past, according to a press release, and had their authority revoked for failing to conduct drug testing on their drivers and other violations.