Werner to appeal $90M verdict in 2014 crash lawsuit

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Updated Jul 8, 2021

Trailer view of a Werner Enterprises semi truckWerner Enterprises, the 11th largest carrier in the country, has said it will appeal a nearly $90 million judgement against it regarding a 2014 crash in which a 7-year-old was killed a 12-year-old paralyzed.

In a statement, Werner denies fault in the crash, saying a pickup truck (in which the plaintiffs were riding) lost control in on the opposite side of the interstate of a Werner truck, crossed the median and spun into the path of the oncoming Werner tractor-trailer, which was driven by Werner driver Shiraz Ali.

Road conditions at the time of the crash were poor, with freezing rain creating limited visibility and black ice, according to court records.

A jury in Houston, Texas, on May 17 found Werner liable for the crash, awarding the family of the crash victims $89.7 million. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that Ali should have pulled off of Interstate 20, where the crash occurred, due to the icy conditions. The plaintiffs blamed Werner for not instructing Ali to avoid the highway due to poor driving conditions.

Werner denies these assertions, and told CCJ it will appeal the ruling. “The undisputed facts are that the plaintiffs were in a pickup that lost control on its side of a divided interstate, came through a grass median, and ran into the Werner truck. The Werner driver was traveling well below the posted speed limit, did not lose control of his tractor-trailer, and even brought the unit to a controlled stop after the impact. As a result, no other motorists were involved in a secondary accident,” the company’s statement says. “While Werner absolutely respects the jury system, we are surprised and extremely disappointed by the jury’s decision in this case, and we will be pursuing an appeal of the verdict.”

The company filed an 8-K form with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, noting the impact the ruling would have on its earnings. Werner says its maximum liability in the case would be $10 million, with insurance picking up the rest, should the verdict hold.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015.