Massachusetts highway accident results in wrongful death suit

The death of a 70-year-old woman riding in a family minivan has triggered a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit against the National Grid trucking firm. The truck’s driver, a foreman for the company, lost control of the vehicle, resulting in a 17,000 pound backhoe onboard coming loose from restraints and landing on top of the minivan, crushing the elderly woman to death.

The accident occurred In August 2011 in Southborough along Interstate 495. The elderly grandmother’s daughter suffered a broken back from the crash, which sent her minivan tumbling off the highway and downward into an embankment. The victim’s two grandchildren, who were also riding in the vehicle, suffered serious injuries and were heard screaming: “Help my grandma!”

Prior to the accident, the company had replaced its 10-wheel, heavier body trucks with 6-wheel trucks that were smaller and lighter. The lawsuit asserts that the trucking firm received multiple complaints from its drivers that the new trucks had difficulties stopping and tended to be hard to control when traveling downhill.

According to the lawsuit, the company ignored this problem and assigned its foreman employee to haul the heavy backhoe in one of the new trucks on a crowded highway.

The foreman’s assignment reportedly even contradicted a memo from a company executive following his own test drive of one of the new vehicles, recommending that they not be used for the transport of heavy construction equipment such as the backhoe involved in the accident.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer characterized the trucking firm’s actions as grossly negligent evidencing “arrogance in caring so little for the safety of the public.” The day after the accident, the new trucks were taken out of service and the truck driver’s commercial driving license was indefinitely suspended.

Source: Boston Globe, “National Grid sued over fatal highway accident,” Denise Lavoie, April 18, 2012