Federal judges awards $2.2 million to family of trucker killed in fiery crash

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 1/8/2014

The family of a Memphis trucker has been awarded $2.2 million following a wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court against another truck driver and his employer.

Eric T. Claxton, 36, and his co-driver, 44-year-old Eric Burks, both of Memphis, died in a fiery crash in November of 2009 involving another semi driven by Sukhwinder Singh, a Michigan trucker, and Singh’s employer, Selma, California-based PVR Transport.

U.S. Middle District Senior Judge William W. Caldwell issued his ruling on behalf of Kamilah Claxton and the couple’s four children on Jan. 6.

According to reports, the crash happened at around 3 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2009, when Singh missed his turnoff at the intersection of Interstates 78 and 81 in Union Township, Penn. Singh pulled off the highway and then re-entered it without using his flashers or signaling that he was re-entering the roadway. Claxton, who was eastbound on I-78 at the time of the crash, rear-ended Singh’s trailer. Reports state that Singh’s 2003 Freightliner was traveling at only 17 miles per hour.

The crash engulfed Claxton and Burks’ 2003 International cab in flames and killed Claxton instantly. Burks died a month later. Caldwell awarded Burks’ estate a $2.3 million judgment in May 2013.

In court filings, Claxton’s lawyer wrote that Singh, a native of India who does not speak English, received a CDL despite failing the written test twice and having to retake the driving test.

The $2.2 million award included $2 million for lost wages, $100,000 for pain and suffering, and $1,290.50 for estate administration expenses. Punitive damages were also awarded against PVR Transport in the amount of $100,000.

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