AFTER SEMI CRASH – DRIVER AND HIS LOGBOOKS DISAPPEAR


Many years ago, a young woman left work in Bentonville and was driving north to her home in Pineville, Missouri.  At the same time, a young man from New Zealand was south bound behind the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler headed back to central Arkansas.  Traffic suddenly slowed in the south bound lane and the young truck driver hit his breaks. Failing to stop, he pulled the massive truck to the left instead of the right and crossed the center line.

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The semi slammed head-on into my client’s car.  She miraculously survived but was seriously injured.

What I learned was that the driver’s employer, an Arkansas trucking company, was hiring very young men through an agency that recruited them from New Zealand to spend a year or two in America driving these massive trucks.  And, not so coincidentally, one week after the wreck, the truck driver left the company’s employment and returned to New Zealand.  Despite my pre-suit demand that the trucking company maintain the truck driver’s hours of service logs, and initially telling me in discovery that the logs existed, the company later could not, or would not, produce them and swore under oath that they were lost or destroyed.

Several months later, my client’s husband found a small notebook in a box of items that had been picked up at the crash scene and placed into the trunk of his wife’s demolished  car.  It was obvious that the notebook was the young truck driver’s journal in which he made rather intimate notes of this thoughts and activities. Fortunately, he had also recorded the time of his diary entries as well as his location. I provided the information to my trucking expert and it became clear that the driver could not be in the locations on the date and times he had recorded without running well over the hours of service he was allowed to be on the road.

I also immediately contacted my opposing counsel and provided them with a copy of the journal. I remember getting a call from the lead attorney for the defendant trucking company and his telling me, “that journal will never see the light of day.”  He knew of course that it’s contents contained objectionable hearsay, and that in order for me to offer it into evidence, it had to first be authenticated under oath.  He also knew that the only person who could do that was the truck driver on the other side of the world.

Not to be deterred, I began to research how I might depose the driver. I found an article by a New York lawyer who had taken a deposition in New Zealand in a civil case and contacted the attorney.  He explained to me that because there was no formal treaty between our two countries, I would have to petition the U.S. District Court in which my case was pending for a Letter of Request to the High Court of Auckland, New Zealand, for the issuance of a subpoena requiring the driver to attend a deposition. I also learned that, if both courts agreed, the deposition would have to take place in the High Court of Auckland.

To make a long blog post shorter, both courts agreed, and I’ll never forget the lead counsel for the defendant trucking company as he walked into the lobby of the Stamford Hotel in Auckland, shake his head (and my hand) and say, “I do admire your bull-doggedness.”

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The High Court of Auckland, New Zealand. 

-bruce

 Bruce L. Mulkey is a member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. Please click HERE to learn more about Bruce.

ONE KILLED TWO INJURED IN HEAD-ON COLLISION ON HIGHWAY 64 NEAR WYNNE

The Arkansas State Police has issued a preliminary report of a head-on collision on Highway 64 east of Wynne at approximately 6:51 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

According to the report, Keene Sykes, age 24, from West Memphis, was killed when the eastbound 2006 Lexus ES he was driving lost control in a curve and went into the westbound lane where it was struck by a 2012 Chevy driven by Kay Bennett, age 20, of Batesville. Ms. Bennett and her passenger, Ken Fryman, age 41, also of Batesville, were both reported as injured.

The report indicated that it was cloudy and that the road was wet at the time of the accident.

Mulkey Law Firm extends condolences to the family of Keene Sykes and hopes for a full and fast recovery for Kay Bennett and Ken Fryman. 

DAVID A. DAVIS KILLED AND TWO INJURED IN HEAD-ON COLLISION IN FAULKNER COUNTY

According to an Arkansas State Police preliminary report a northbound 2004 Honda Accord crossed the center line and struck a southbound 2006 F150 pickup head on at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Highway 65 at Springhill in Faulkner County on Saturday, April 23, 2015.

The driver of the F150, David A. Davis, age 56, of Conway is reported to have died and his passenger, Melinda A. Davis, age 56, also of Conway was reportedly injured. The driver of the Honda Accord, Jennifer N. Jordan, age 37, of Greenbrier, is also identified as injured.

The report indicates that there was light rain falling but that the road condition was dry.

Mulkey Law Firm extends sincere condolences to the family of David Davis and hopes for the full and fast recovery of Melinda Davis and Jennifer Jordan.