NOTE: This article has been edited to clarify information and to include a statement from Landstar Ranger Inc.
TITUS COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas family was awarded a total of $730 million in a wrongful death lawsuit in Titus County.
In 2016 just off of Highway 271, Toni Combest, was killed in a car crash with a truck hauling a propeller for a U.S. Navy submarine. Last Friday, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $480 million, one of the nations largest wrongful death verdicts this year. Today, the jury ruled another $250 million in punitive damages, making this the largest single fatality case in the history of the United States.
“The reason the jury was compelled to award such a large number was because their conduct was and negligent acts were so bad, they just didn’t understand why the State of Texas and every state they were certified in, said ‘don’t do what you’re doing’ and despite their training, they violated it,” said attorney Brent Goudarzi.
According to a release from Goudarzi and Young, Landstar Ranger, Inc. settled less than one week prior to jury selection for $50 million. S&M Pilot Service, the employer of the rear escort driver, also settled just prior to trial for $1 million. The trial went forward against 2A Pilot Cars, the employer of the front escort vehicle.
The following is a statement issued to KETK from Landstar Ranger Inc.
Yesterday, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, a verdict in the amount of $730 million was rendered by a state court in eastern Texas in a wrongful death case involving the Estate of Mrs. Toni Combest and her four adult children. This was a tragic accident that has clearly caused great pain to the Combest family.
All claims against Landstar Ranger, Inc. relating to this matter were settled prior to trial. The trial proceeded as to claims that were not settled against the front escort vehicle leading the shipment along its route. The front escort vehicle was provided by an independent third-party company, 2 A Pilot Cars. The verdict rendered against 2 A Pilot Cars does not affect or impact the prior settlement reached between the Combest family and Landstar Ranger.
Landstar Ranger did not own the truck or any of the equipment involved in the crash, and did not employ the driver operating the truck. Rather, the load was being hauled under Landstar Ranger’s federal interstate operating authority and the truck and trailing equipment were leased to Landstar Ranger by the truck’s owner-operator under the federal leasing regulations.
Landstar is committed to maintaining its industry-leading safety program. More information on safety at Landstar is available at https://www.landstar.com/why-landstar/safety-security/.