In 2015, Jenny Hennes was driving her 2009 Cadillac STS in congested San Antonio traffic when she was rear-ended by a 2012 GMC Yukon. The Yukon was driven by an employee of JC Fodale Energy Services, Mikey Hunt. Hunt was the safety manager for the company.
Evidence in the case showed that Hunt had texted more than 2,000 times while he was driving over the 5 month period prior to the crash. Jurors decided the crash was caused by the company’s lack of safety management and Hunt’s failure to drive carefully.
The verdict against JC Fodale Energy Services, based in Shreveport, Louisiana, included $30 million in punitive damages. It also included almost $7.3 million for physical pain and mental anguish, $2.9 million for physical impairment, almost $1.3 million for medical expenses and $1.1 million for loss of past and future earnings. The employee, Mickey Hunt, was directed to pay $2.5 million in punitive damages.
JC Fodale filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in February 2016, shortly after the ruling.
“This case really represents setting a standard for companies and people making sure they’re not using their cellphones (while) driving,” reported in MySanAntonio.com. They cited studies that show the impairment level of talking on a cellphone while driving is the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 — considered to be legally intoxicated in Texas.
Source: mySA, “Lytle woman wins $43.5M jury verdict in driving-while-texting case,” Patrick Danner, Nov. 22, 2017