A jury deliberated less than an hour before awarding $3.5 million to the family of a man who died when his van was crushed between two logging trucks in a January 2008 accident in Elmore County.
A Chilton County jury ordered Ken Gorum Trucking and Gary Fruge, the driver of the logging truck, to pay $3.5 million to the family of James Sanderson.
Attorneys Benjamin E. Baker and J. Cole Portis entered evidence that the Gorum truck was being operated at a high rate of speed and with defective brakes in violation of Alabama law.
The accident occurred in Elmore County where Alabama 14 intersects with Alabama 170 going toward Eclectic. A car had stopped to make a left-hand turn, and first a logging truck and then Sanderson’s van had stopped behind it.
The Gorum logging truck, driven by Fruge, failed to stop, and rammed Sanderson’s van, pushing it into the logs on the truck in front of him.
“I don’t want to be too graphic, but his vehicle was sent careening into the logs in the log truck in front of him, the logs went through the front windshield of his car, and one of the logs went through his head and killed him,” said Portis, who along with Baker is part of the Beasley Allen law firm in Montgomery.
Fruge said the truck was traveling about 45mph.
Portis and Baker contended it had to have been going much faster than that.
“If he had been going 45, he had a thousand feet to stop and should have stopped within 360 feet,” Portis said. “Based on the evidence from the accident, our expert said he was going somewhere between 65 to 75 miles per hour.”
Beasley Allen represented the Sanderson family, including James Sanderson’s widow, Annie M. Sanderson, and children, Derek, Josh and Amy Sanderson. The family lives in Clanton.
Before the trial, Progressive Insurance Co., the insurance company for the defendants, refused to settle the case, Portis said.
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