“There’s not a lot of good things going on in our legal system,” transportation attorney Clay Porter told attendees of CCJ‘s Spring Symposium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday, June 6. “Trucking companies should stop hauling freight and spend more time fighting lawsuits – you’d be a lot more profitable.”
During his presentation, “Emerging Risks in Trucking Management,” Porter – of the Atlanta-based law firm Dennis, Corry, Porter & Smith – warned Symposium attendees to be keenly aware of the jurisdiction where their case is being tried.
“There are places in which the rules change,” Porter said. “Many states have no cap on punitive damages,” he said, describing such a situation for trucking companies facing a lawsuit as “extortion by law.”
Various trends have emerged as the most common methods used by plaintiffs’ attorneys in their bids to raise punitive damages, Porter said:
Carriers “permit” violations of the hours-of-service regulations if they fail to have management systems in place that effectively prevent such violations. “There is an actual accounting cost to some of these safety issues,” Porter said. “The alternative is to start moving away from these problems.” Also, plaintiffs’ lawyers more often are going after the “good” companies – those with more money and insurance.