Atlanta, GA— Whether a 2016 big rig crash ended a Georgia trucker’s career, and the reaction of another trucker to his post-crash drug testing were key issues Wednesday as a damages trial opened against a concrete supplier and one of its drivers. Love, et al. v. Ready Mix USA, LLC, et al., 18EV003461.
David Love was stopped in his flatbed tractor-trailer on Georgia’s I-85 when he was struck by a Ready Mix USA concrete mixer driven by Tony Hampton. Love, who was 38 and transported props and vehicles to movie sets at the time of the crash, says the wreck left him with long-term post traumatic stress disorder as well as back and neck injuries.
During Wednesday’s openings, Love’s attorney, Fried Goldberg’s Joseph Fried, said the PTSD has caused a range of psychological fallout that robbed Love of his ability to drive big rigs and return to a well-paying job that he loved.
“This is a guy who used to say that the inside of a tractor cab was ‘my safe place…. I could just go sit in my cab and the world was OK,’” Fried said. “Now he can’t do that anymore. It’s not his safe place anymore.”
Fried said he’ll request more than $3 million in economic damages alone, as well as damages for pain and suffering and punitives. In support of the punitive claim, Fried said Hampton failed to produce a valid, unmonitored urine sample to test for drugs following the crash, refused to produce a “monitored sample,” then tried to bribe the testing agent to pass him on the test.
Hampton contends that he was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck and denies claims that he tried to bribe the testing agent. During Wednesday’s openings, Hampton’s attorney, Strott & Dillon’s Peter Strott, told jurors that police and others who spoke to Hampton after the accident did not believe he showed signs of being on drugs. And Strott said Hampton refused to submit to a monitored test because he considered it dehumanizing.
“He didn’t refuse a drug test. He refused to do a second test [while] being watched,” Strott said. “It had been a long day [and] he was distraught.”
Meanwhile, Ready Mix challenges Love’s claim that the crash caused the injuries he describes. During Wednesday’s openings, David Cooney, of Cooney Trybus Kwavnick Peets, said Love’s medical records were inconsistent with his claims of post-accident injuries. And Cooney noted Love had undergone regular chiropractic treatment for neck and back problems before the wreck.
Cooney also criticized the conclusions surrounding Love’s PTSD diagnosis, while adding that Love had failed to fully follow through on recommended psychological treatment.
“He didn’t do anything to try to get better [from] the problem that supposedly is preventing him from [returning to trucking] and preventing him from having a happy family life, preventing him from being the man that he says he used to be,” Cooney said.
The case is expected to go to the jury later this week. CVN is covering the trial gavel-to-gavel and will offer video on demand to subscribers after the trial’s conclusion.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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