U-Haul Must Pay $84 Million To Man For Injuries

A Dallas court found U-Haul guilty of negligence for failing to maintain its vehicles properly, and awarded 74-year-old Talmadge Waldrip $84 million in damages, $63 million of which are punitive. “The truck’s parking brake did not work at all,” said the man’s lawyer. “He stepped out of the truck and it rolled right over him.”

U-Haul will appeal, of course, and announced that “the damages awarded are particularly outrageous given the circumstances of this case… The final verdict is another example of abuse of the legal system against corporate citizens in America.”

What they failed to mention in their statement was that Waldrip’s pelvis was crushed in the accident, “leaving him unable to walk and with no bowel control,” and that “six previous renters had similar problems with the truck.”

“Jury says U-Haul must pay $84 million to injured man” [Los Angeles Times] (Thanks to Peter!)
(Photo: Roland)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. EricaKane says:

    Unfortunately, given the Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding punitive damages, this amount is going to be reversed.

  2. rpm773 says:

    I’ve probably seen no less than 10 U-Hauls broken down by the side of the road in the last 10 years. One had a discouraging amount of white smoke billowing out of the engine…I hope the driver’s stuff didn’t burn in the ensuing engine fire.

    That kind of advertising speaks for itself, U-Haul

  3. johnva says:

    I’m sure it will be reduced. But I wish it would stick and bankrupt them. This is inexcusable negligence. We really need to bring back a “corporate death penalty” in this country.

  4. TechnoDestructo says:

    “The final verdict is another example of abuse of the legal system against corporate citizens in America.”

    Blah blah reduced on a appeal, whatever, U-haul still deserved to lose and lose BIG. You don’t get to cry about abuse against corporate citizens unless you’re a good corporate citizen.

  5. jefffromNY says:

    Well U Haul is right to lose, but it does seem excessive. We live in a weird society where we punish those corporations that have led America to thrive. Compare these two cases.

    Man gets imprisoned in Erie County, NY for 14 years, gets $3.2 million.

    Man gets severely injured, and he gets over 25x that amount. Probably because U Haul is a big corporation and a Liberal judge probably felt the need to take them down a peg.

    Instead lets make the government do their jobs, abandon the useless war and drugs, stop welfare completely, adopt a loser pays court system, and actually have a government that works for the tax payers, not the social leaches. This isn’t supposed to be a welfare state.

  6. jefffromNY says:

    What I meant by the government doing their job was that they should have inspected the trucks, and not give the money that they could have spend making society safe on welfare payments.

  7. Ron Seigel says:

    In other news…

    Kimberly-Clark must pay $22 million to man for leaky Depends and embarrassing public transit incident.

  8. humphrmi says:

    I like to analyze the impact of big verdicts on companies. I’m not a lawyer or anything, I just do it for fun. I’m weird.

    I’m a little concerned about this sticking. Not that shareholders are determining the impact of this litigation, but day traders are usually a pretty good litmus test and to see prices within one session rise in U-Haul’s parent (Amerco, [finance.google.com]) after this kind of verdict usually means that either (A) their shareholders had already priced in a bigger verdict and this is actually a relief to them (unlikely) or (B) they see this award as being so outrageous that it effectively won’t happen.

    I wanna see them get dinged just as bad as everyone else. I just hope that their marketmakers are wrong here.

  9. ByeBye says:

    Some of you say that this $84 million settlement goes too far, well I say this $84 million settlement doesn’t go too far enough!

  10. ByeBye says:

    @TheManator: Cookie for who gets that reference, btw

  11. mastercha says:

    @TheManator: are you invoking Jack Johnson, or his bitter rival, John Jackson?

  12. headhot says:

    Cooperations are not people, therefore not citizens..

    If they were citizens they could be tossed in jail or executed. Uhaul should be thankful they are not a citizen.

  13. forgottenpassword says:

    sorry, but U-haul deserves this. They are NOTORIOUSLY known for having vehicles/trailers that have not been maintained propery & even dangerous.

    This was an issue years & years ago.

    IMO a company either needs to get punished to FIX the problem (their poorly maintained & dangerous trucks/trailers) or be driven out of business completely because they REFUSE to fix said problem.

  14. stinerman says:

    @EricaKane:

    Right, under BMW v. Gore.

    That being said, if this counts as reckless disregard for health and safety, the amount may stick. And in this case, it just might.

  15. TMurphy says:

    It’d be nice to tack on mandatory extra inspections and huge fines for continued negligence.

  16. I think the amount is a bit excessive, but yikes! this guy definitely deserves at least a couple million.

  17. rellog says:

    So where’s the “it’s the stupid old dudes fault” crowd???
    Just like it was the old lady at McDonalds fault…

    Hope this sticks. And usually the awards are set by the jury, not the judge (for those spouting about liberal judges…)

  18. Candyman says:

    @EricaKane:

    No reason that decision should affect this case. Philip Morris vs. Williams said that jurors should not base their damage award amounts on the potential harm to OTHERS not part of the suit, but just on the damages to the plaintiff. Nothing in this case indicates the jury based their award on harm to other people, just on the harm done to the plaintiff.

  19. Concerned_Citizen says:

    What I don’t like is that the local branch is way more responsible. Although, I am not against going after the national company, since they probably have done nothing to local stores to get them to fix trucks. But the jack asses that rented out that truck to him should be sued for a million bucks and they should lose everything they own.

  20. Candyman says:

    @stinerman:

    No, that was back in 1996, so I don’t think Erica meant that by “recent decision.” Besides, all that said was that a $2 mil punitive damage award was excessive for a badly retouched paint job on a new car, so exceswsive as to violate the constitutional “due process” clause. IOW, the punitive award has to be reasonably proportionate to the actual harm suffered. A bad paintjob was not worth punishing them to the tune of $2 mil. Paraplegia, OTOH, is another story, and even an award of this size is still reasonably proportionate.

  21. johnva says:

    @jefffromNY: How the hell is it the government’s job to inspect U-haul’s trucks for them? It’s negligence, pure and simple. And the reason you allow awards like this is as a deterrent. Make shareholders liable to lose every dime of their investment due to crap like this, and you can bet that companies like U-haul will stop being so negligent. Of course it’s excessive as a punishment for one person…the point is to make them fear the courts and to make them an example to other companies.

  22. The Dude says:

    How does giving ‘punitive damages’ to the victim and their lawyers make any sense? I don’t claim great knowledge on the subject, but this just seems like a conflict of interest.

  23. Copper says:

    @mastercha: Could go either way, they’re just so…different.

    This guy’s kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’…kids’ got way lucky they’re great…great grandpa got run over by U-Haul. While I like to see companies like this actually have to do something about not following their own rules, this amount seems incredibly excessive. Maybe give the guy a couple million and give the rest to everyone who’s ever rented from U-Haul. Or something.

  24. FlyingMonkey says:

    Several years ago my husband and I rented a U-Haul during a move from Austin to Houston. My husband drove the U-Haul and I followed in our car. 20 or 30 miles outside of Houston, my husband got off the highway and pulled into a shopping center, parking way out in the empty area. When I asked him what was happening, he said the brakes were failing. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to stop safely when he got off the highway. We called U-Haul and they sent out a mechanic who said there was a leak in the brake line. He refilled the truck then was nice enough to follow us nearly all the way to our new house to make sure the truck was ok. When we returned the truck to u-Haul the next day, the rental fee was waived. I didn’t know this wasn’t an uncommon issue with U-Haul. Thankfully no one was hurt in our case.

  25. kyle4 says:

    This guy just won the $84 million dollar lottery, except he didn’t because he now has a crushed pelvis and urinary problems because of U-Haul’s truck. Even though the number is outrageous, they shouldn’t reverse it to make a point.

  26. loki7154 says:

    The market cap of U-haul’s parent company is $1.17 billion, so this IS a pretty heavy chunk of change for the company, especially given that their earnings per year is around $40 million. In reality, this will probably settle for about 1/3 to 1/5 of the jury award–say $20 million. The company won’t want to get the bad publicity and the plaintiff (and plaintiff’s lawyers) will want to get their money. The company will take a one-time charge against earnings, and life will move on.

    @The Dude: Punitive damages are a way for the courts to function as a check on those who would otherwise ignore the damages and write them off as a cost of doing business. It’s a way to regulate without the regulators.

  27. Candyman says:

    @The Dude:

    The conflict of interest would be if they allowed the court, which decides the case and the award amount, to keep the money. Think about it. So if not the courts, or by extension the government, or the plaintiff, then who gets the money?? HMMMM?

  28. ARP says:

    @jefffromNY: Part of the reason that juries award these amounts is because they feel ripped off in every other aspect of their lives and this is their only way of leveling the playing field. Why doesn’t this happen in other industrialized countries? 1) Because they have a loser pays system (which I support); 2) Because most other judges would throw out the stupid cases; and 3) Because the people get a certain level of respect. Meaning, they get a reasonable wage, health care, education, etc. So, they don’t feel ripped off. The argument that its our “entitlement society” is BS. Other countries are much more socialized and they don’t have this problem. Sorry, my opinion is that Obama is right- we’re bitter and its these little things where we try to even things up.

  29. Buckus says:

    I’m not surprised that the truck was a complete piece of crap. Whenever I rent from U-Haul their trucks seem to be about on their last leg. The way it works at the U-Haul is that long distance moves get the newer trucks, and the older trucks are relegated to around-town duty. I would not be surprised if that truck was 20 years old or older.

    I think that if companies want to appeal jury decisions, they should be forced to put up the original amount, or at least 1/2, in a special fund that they can’t touch or earn interest on or anything.

  30. Optimistic Prime says:

    Even if the punitive damages stick, U-Haul will still rent this piece of crap truck out in the same condition for another 20 years. This company has now concern whatsoever that the trucks are a danger to others, even when you tell them that when you return it. The last truck I had wasn’t serviced in many years, the dash lights didn’t work, and the parking brake didn’t work either. I was lucky it was only a short trip with no hills.

  31. ByeBye says:

    @mastercha: Good show. And a good show too. Anyways, seriously, I don’t see anything wrong with this settlement, of course, I am saying that because I want this much money, but who doesn’t.

  32. Hoss says:

    @loki7154: You’re right thet the damages are significant for a $1 billion corp, but remember that this is why they buy business insurance

  33. weave says:

    The medical expenses to cover a disability like this can be insanely high and last for the person’s life time. Not just medical expenses, but adaptions as well — like the cost to modify a van so it can be driven by a quadriplegic can run up to almost $100,000. So who should pay for it? The public through increased taxes (if medicaid) or insurance rates?

    How much would you be willing to take to exchange your ability to walk and not shit yourself if it was a voluntary decision between the two?

  34. JackSparks says:

    @weave: We’re I 74 years old, $25-30 million, which includes a premium for losing my ability to walk and not soil myself via being half crushed by a U-Haul truck.

    And that’s exclusive of my compensatory damages. But my damn kids better be thankful and change a few diapers before I kick off.

  35. e065702 says:

    Re jefffromNY:
    1) lets make the government do their jobs, 2) abandon the useless war and drugs, 3) stop welfare completely, 4) adopt a loser pays court system, and 5) actually have a government that works for the tax payers, not the social leaches

    1) This is what politics is, defining what governments job is. I assure you the current administration does not think the governments job is inspecting u-hauls or even ensuring public safety, laissez-faire and all that.
    2) 100% agreement
    3) As soon as the government ceases corporate welfare (bloated military contracts, for obsolete systems, billions of tax offsets for past years for housing manufacturers that continued building past the market peak, etc..) then we can start talking about ADC and other welfare programs.
    4) Loser pays = no litigation by people without means. What if the litigant has no money to pay. How would this stipulation be enforced?
    5) Too vague to evaluate

  36. @jefffromNY: “Well U Haul is right to lose, but it does seem excessive. We live in a weird society where we punish those corporations that have led America to thrive.”

    What a load of baloney. What you’re saying is that large corporations should have carte blanche to blow off safety simply because they’re large corporations. Dude, this isn’t “McDonald’s coffee is too hot and the lids are flimsy.” A guy got run over by a parked U-Haul because the brakes failed, something that would have been caught on the sort of cursory inspection that should be routine for any company that maintains a fleet of vehicles as part of its business. Pull your head out of your ass, turn off the right-wing talk radio, and pay attention to what’s going on around you.

  37. jpx72x says:

    @EricaKane: Right, having it overturned would be such an injustice. After all, nothing says “stick it to the man” like forcing them to pass huge price increases on to their customers.

  38. Poor guy is gonna come out of this without 1/2 of that settlement… lawyers.

    On another note, if OUR cars have to be inspected yearly for road worthiness… what system do these trucks work under?? “When they start going bad, we’ll THINK about fixin’ them….

    No guarantees.”

  39. jefffromNY says:

    @Steaming Pile: You really quoted me selectively. I said that U Haul deserved to lose, but $84 million is way excessive when you compare it with others.
    And it is the government’s job to keep its citizens safe. Yes, this was negligence, but it seems weird that SIX people could have this problem and some government office wouldn’t have pulled the truck off the road.
    And to the guy who said he hopes the shareholders lose everything. That’s just mean, did you know that most stock in the US is held by the middle class? You just said that you hope that a bunch of people (maybe nearing retirement) lose a whole ton of money. Do you understand how hateful it is to say that you hope that someone never gets to retire so you can get your vengeance on someone else?

  40. bohemian says:

    Uhaul has had a well known systemic problem of dangerous trucks that they know about and refuse to fix. They continue to rent them out with total disregard to people’s safety.

    The only recourse we have is the courts because there is no regulatory agency to control Uhaul. The only “pain” we can give a company is financial, you can’t put a company in jail. The monetary award is reasonable compared to decades of endangering people to make an easy buck.

  41. bohemian says:

    Does anyone find it interesting that Uhaul owns two insurance companies?
    [finance.google.com]

  42. AnderBobo says:

    I don’t see this as excessive at all. It was only a matter of time before a horrendous injury was incurred due to the lack of maintainance on these death machines. Uhaul is lucky this guy or somebody else wasn’t killed.

    I’m sure Uhaul was NOT ignorant to the problems surrounding this truck and willfully chose to keep this particular truck on the road as long as possible without making necessary repairs all to make a buck. The behavior of this chain was reckless and endangered the lives of customers. I’m glad Uhaul is getting hit where it hurts the most, their wallet. Hopefully this will encourage them to pay more attention to their vehicles.

    I do think however that maybe the man could have been awarded something like 40 million and then the rest dispursed to every prior customer of Uhaul.

  43. Rando says:

    I hope the appeal is denied and they go out of buisness. I’ve drove a few U-Hauls in my time and they have all been EXTREMELY unsafe, especially when you drive above 40 MPH. I’m suprised I haven’t died in one of them.

  44. overbysara says:

    uhaul trucks are in pretty sad shape, generally. glad they got this wake up call.

  45. Falconfire says:

    @jefffromNY: The fault with your argument is while imprisoned illegally for those 13 years, the defendant was relatively safe and cared for. This man will spend the rest of his life needing care which is VERY expensive.

    I would even venture to say 84 million wont be enough to secure a comfortable life for this guy.

    Its not so much punishing the corporations who “make America great” (which these days is a completely apologetic sack of bullshit since few corporations give two hoots about citizens anymore) Its about paying for this guys medical bills, which I would venture to guess are already in the realm of 5-7 million dollars.

    If you wanted a realistic verdict, not only should this man be getting that money, but the owners and operators of that store AND their supervisors should be going to jail too. They would elsewhere in the world.

  46. Falconfire says:

    @jefffromNY: Um no its NOT the governments job to keep them safe in this regard. Its quite funny your hear posting about “liberal judges” yet THEN jump on the biggest liberal cause of them all, governments controlling businesses.

    Your a true blue Bush republican all right, screw the citizens, then blame it on lack of public oversight (when no public oversight should have been needed in the first place if the company did its job) to protect your buddys while your buddys make millions and kick them back to you.

  47. heavylee-again says:

    I am often disgusted by the often-overly litigious attitude of the typical American. However, I am in full agreement with the outcome of this lawsuit. Not only does this man deserve significant compensation, Uhaul also deserves considerable financial penalties. Unfortunately, sometimes money/fines/lawsuits is the only thing corporations pay attention to and not common sense and/or ethics.

  48. Scatter says:

    I really don’t know if the award is excessive or not. It would be interesting to see how much it’s going to cost in medical bills to treat a person with a crushed pelvis. And to loose all bowel control for the rest of your life because U-Haul was too cheap to maintain their trucks deserves something in my mind.

  49. burgundyyears says:

    @Hossofcourse: U-Haul is self-insured. And even if you do have liability insurance for your company, punitive damages are almost never covered.

    $63 million is incredibly high though and seems arbitrary. If we truly want to impose corporate death penalties via product liability (!), why not make it $1 billion?

    I almost feel bad for U-Haul. They are really the only people who will rent to almost anyone (only have to be 18, no credit card required, etc. as opposed to many other companies where you have to be 21 or 25, have a credit card, and there may be other requirements) and people abuse the equipment beyond belief. I can’t say I’ll shed many tears should they disappear, but even people without a lot of means do need to move.

  50. chrisjames says:

    I’d like to see a justification for the $63M punitive. That does seem a little outrageous. The courtroom is not a proper place to regulate business, even a dumbass business like U-Haul.

  51. If U-Haul is trying to make us feel sorry for them and other negligent “corporate citizens,” running over old men with trucks is a lousy way to go about it.

  52. Munsoned says:

    Is U-Haul in the bracket for the Worst Company in America contest? If not, all of us collectively made a big ommission. Has anyone ever rented a truck from them that WASN’T on its last leg and at least borderline unsafe to drive? How about the fact that they never have the truck that you “reserved” when you show up (you only reserve a price, not an actual truck). Every U-Haul office I’ve ever been in has been run-down, dirty, and made me wonder if I was current on my tetanus shot. On top of everything, their prices border on highway robbery. I’ve moved over to Budget and have had much better experiences (so far).

  53. cerbie says:

    @jefffromNY: how is it hateful to wish that someone who chose to keep their money with a bad company loses it? If they made that choice in part by gambling with a large portion of money on a single company, whatever company it is, they are responsible for that loss. Exceptions, of course, to those forced to get company stock as part of employment benefits. But, in that case, you worked for U-haul, so I think it evens out, in this scenario.

    If someone does not get to retire, I don’t see how that’s anyone’s problem outside of that person’s immediate family. Retirement is a potential result long-term planning—not a right.

    …and, that’s without pointing out the obvious appeal to emotion.

  54. bukz68 says:

    @chrisjames: My guess is that this guy probably would have rather had his pelvis NOT crushed and retained the ability to NOT shit his pants more than the $84 mil. I’m sure you’d be singing a different tune if you had your pelvis crushed. You know what they say about walking in someone else’s shoes…

  55. johnva says:

    @The Dude: I agree that giving punitive damages to some third party might be a good idea (like giving them to a charity of the victims’ choice, perhaps). But that’s a secondary point…the main point of them is deterrence.

    @jefffromNY: The point is, that if big shareholders’ money is at risk due to the company they are investing in’s negligence, then big shareholders will demand that the company stop acting negligently. And unlike when the government asks them to, they will get results. You simply have to pass the cost of the court verdict on to them. If they share in the profits, they share in the risk of lawsuits and have an interest in preventing them to protect their investment. This is the type of regulation a Republican like yourself should want, because it’s effective self-regulation. But it won’t happen unless companies and shareholders fear the courts. And they won’t fear the courts unless high punitive damages are allowed. I would even argue that punitive damages against a corporate defendant should be metered to annual revenue somehow. If a smaller company does it, they might pay $1 million. If a huge multinational company does, they pay billions.

  56. vladthepaler says:

    Yes, the award is absurdly high. But the reason for it being so high is because the jury wants to send a message to UHaul. And I agree with that. The amount has to be so high that UHaul will correct its behaviour, otherwise the suit is meaningless.

  57. Mr. Gunn says:

    You people who are saying it’s crazy high, answer me this: If I offered to pay you $84 million in exchange for crushing your pelvis and leaving you unable to piss, shit, or fuck for the rest of your life, would you take the deal?

  58. can we just stop the Worst Company in America thing now and give it to U-Haul?

  59. milqtost says:

    @jefffromNY: Why should the government be inspecting a private company’s trucks? Can the government also inspect my truck and tell me what needs fixed? While they are at it, I have some brown spots in my lawn, can they check those out too?

  60. Interl0per says:

    $84 mill might be a bit much, but U-Haul has responsibility for its own trucks and equipment to be maintained. A person could have lost their life, U-Haul should be punished severely for not carrying out the most basic tasks of regular maintenance and allowing this gross negligence to carry though multiple complaints.

  61. theczardictates says:

    @jefffromNY: Apparently you’re unaware that UHaul has a long history of losing court cases over faulty equipment, not to mention “losing” critical evidence that it had been court-ordered to preserve. Apparently they are willing to consider it a cost of doing business. AND if you actually read the story you’d know that UHaul had every reason to know that the truck was faulty… and still did nothing about it. That is why the PUNITIVE damages are so high.

    There used to be a mantra online that went “read, think, post”, but I guess it’s easier to jump to “blame the liberal judge! blame the government! blame anybody but the company that ACTUALLY DID THIS CRAP!”

  62. Superawesomerad says:

    @jefffromNY: Congratulations on espousing the least coherent worldview I’ve ever heard. Welfare should be abolished … so that the government can spend more time regulating private companies? And shareholders shouldn’t lose the money they invest in shitty or incompetent companies, because that’s “mean”? What the fuck are you on? Are you one of Ron Paul’s dumber acolytes or something?

  63. Orv says:

    U-Haul has some weird and kind of non-sensical rules that are the result of lawsuits. For example, someone towing a U-Haul trailer with a Ford Explorer had a defective Firestone tire blow out — on the Explorer, which rolled. They included U-Haul in the suit. For a long time after that U-Haul refused to rent trailers to Ford Explorer owners, although they would rent if you had the Mercury Mountaineer, which is the SAME TRUCK.

  64. econobiker says:

    @milqtost: Yes,some governments can inspect your truck and tell you what it needs before allowing you to get a new registration. It is called safety and emissions inspection…

  65. ronmelancon says:

    One Again we have people who are blameing the system.

    Please Go to http://www.dangeroustrailers.org for another view at this issue.

    While the issue I am writing about does not involve u Haul trucks…
    my issue is the condition of these trailers and the fact that very few
    people really know how to tow.

    Here is an accident that just happend with a U Haul trailer.

    Band loses equipment after island gig
    From staff reports
    Published Thursday, May 8, 2008
    Comment on this |
    Mail ItEmail it | Print ItPrint it | XML Feeds
    | delicious | digg | | reddit | [post on facebook] | stumble upon | technorati

    A band lost its equipment in the Sea Pines Circle after playing a
    show last week at Stage’s, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s
    report released Wednesday.

    The equipment fell out of a U-Haul trailer as the band’s van made its way off the island just before midnight May 1.

    Members were able to retrieve everything except for a 1957 Gibson
    Les Paul guitar worth $4,500, which may have been picked up by a
    motorist.

    My Point is what if some of this stuff flew off and hit a car or crashed through the windshield??

    It happen last year where a Jury in California awared a women 12.5 million.

    Woman hit by unsecured load awarded $15 million

    By Christine Clarridge

    Seattle Times staff reporter

    PREV of NEXT

    Maria Federici was not in court for Friday’s verdict.

    Related

    * Archive | Woman injured in 2004 accident tested drunk
    * Archive | Women revise a law, rebuild a life
    * Archive | Woman injured after debris hit car on I-405

    A woman who was left blinded and disfigured when part of an
    entertainment center flew from a rented U-Haul and crashed through her
    windshield in 2004 was awarded $15.5 million by a King County jury
    after more than a week of deliberations.

    U-Haul International Inc., and U-Haul Co. of Washington were ordered
    to pay 67 percent of the total, with the balance to be paid by James
    Hefley, the man who was driving the rented the U-Haul trailer.

    Jurors did not find the Bellevue company that rented the trailer to Hefley or Maria Federici liable in the accident.

    Federici and her family were not in court Friday when the verdict
    was read. Their attorneys said they live more than an hour away from
    the downtown Seattle courthouse and were unable to make it in time.

    One of their attorneys, Simon Forgette, said he called Federici’s mother from the courthouse and relayed the good news.

    “They’re very happy, and they’re very relieved,” he said. “It was stressful to have the jury out for over a week.”

    Last week, during closing arguments in the six-week trial,
    Federici’s attorneys had asked jurors to award $38 million to the
    28-year-old University of Washington graduate who is permanently
    blinded and disfigured.

    Jurors determined instead that Federici was due $640,000 for past
    economic damages, $7.1 million for future economic damages and $7.75
    million for noneconomic damages.

    An attorney for U-Haul said the company will be considering its options, including filing an appeal.

    While the accident was a “terrible tragedy,” said U-Haul attorney
    Carl Gilmore, “U-Haul believes that the product was safe and that
    U-Haul was not negligent.”

    The accident inspired legislators to pass “Maria’s Law,” which
    criminalized the failure to secure a load when someone is injured or
    killed.

    Before the law took effect in 2005, drivers who lost their loads
    could be cited only for a traffic infraction with a maximum fine of
    $250.

    advertising

    Hefley, who was tracked down from a fingerprint found on the entertainment center, was only issued a traffic citation and fined.

    Among those who pushed for the new legislation was late King County
    Prosecutor Norm Maleng. His widow, Judy, was in the court Friday when
    the verdict was read.

    Federici’s attorneys argued that U-Haul knew the trailer’s design
    prevented proper securing of loads and that the company failed to issue
    adequate warnings.

    Jurors found that the Bellevue gas station’s owner, Capron Holdings
    Inc., was negligent in renting out the trailer, but did not hold the
    company liable for damages.

    Attorneys for U-Haul and Capron had argued that Hefley deserved the lion’s share of the blame.

    According to attorneys with the case, Hefley declared bankruptcy and
    did not defend himself in court. The judgment against him was entered
    as a matter of law although his liability was determined by the jury.

    U-Haul and Capron had also argued that Federici could be faulted in part.

    They had argued that she was following Hefley too closely and that a
    glass of wine she drank before leaving work that night may have
    affected her ability to avoid the flying board.

    But jurors determined Federici was not negligent and not liable for the accident.

    Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983

    or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

    Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

    More Local News headlines…

    E-mail article Print view

    Advertising

    Buy a link here

    Get home delivery today!
    More Local News

    Conflict of interest by McIver claimed

    UPDATE – 09:03 AM

    Bush signs Wild Sky wilderness bill in Washington state

    Community is its own newspaper

    Nickels: Tap your tap to quench that thirst

    Hispanic students at Interlake pull together to graduate

    Advertising
    Marketplace

    Enjoy 3 courses for $30, May 1-29
    Dine at 23 new Seattle-area restaurants.
    New Urban Eats, a dining event from NWsource.

    View participating restaurants
    Enter to win dinner for two

    1. Man talking on cellphone killed by train in Auburn
    2. Stop buying bottled water, Nickels urges Seattleites
    3. Seattle names 4 sites that could house jail
    4. Dead bear found hanging from bridge in Golden, B.C.
    5. In autistic boy’s hands, paper and scissors express an amazing spectrum
    6. Driver who killed skateboarder gets two-year sentence
    7. Exam indicates sea lions not shot to death
    8. Man marries, receives 18-year assault sentence
    9. Bobby Engram drops off note seeking raise, skips Hawks practice
    10. Official: UN plane lands in Myanmar with aid after cyclone

    1. Love bread? Then you need to try this easy recipe | Nancy Leson
    2. In autistic boy’s hands, paper and scissors express an amazing spectrum
    3. Making a Dutch Baby pancake is child’s play
    4. Stop buying bottled water, Nickels urges Seattleites
    5. Seattle names 4 sites that could house jail
    6. Recipe: Strawberry Dutch Baby
    7. Japan’s children steadily disappear
    8. Googling Kirkland
    9. WSU football docked 8 scholarships for poor academic record
    10. Boeing’s Poseidon sub hunter for Navy brings commercial, defense sides together

  66. @TheManator: halfway through that statement, i was thinking ‘doesn’t go too far enough’

    @ronmelancon: you couldn’t have trimmed that down, just a bit? or simply linked directly to the article?

    and re: $84million settlement:
    keep in mind that this will possibly leave the man permanently unable to walk

  67. LorettaDuge says:

    I agree with the last post in the sense that I think it’s INCREDIBLY important that the operator be really well informed about what they’re doing before using any kind of trailer, Uhaul or otherwise. The fact is that Uhaul does have a responsibility to ensure that their rental equipment is safe and well-maintained and that their customers are given the opportunity to become informed about safety risks.

    Uhaul has a horrible record on both of these counts! To learn more and to share your own Uhaul experience, please visit http://www.uhaulsafetyalert.org.