Werner Enterprises hit with $90M verdict in civil court

Sheeds, who lives in Texas, drives for Werner Enterprises. He's been accident-free for 26...
Sheeds, who lives in Texas, drives for Werner Enterprises. He's been accident-free for 26 years. (Photo Courtesy: NBC)(KGNS)
Published: May. 17, 2018 at 9:55 PM CDT
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A civil jury found Werner Enterprises negligent in a 2014 crash in Texas that killed a child and left several others injured. The jury awarded nearly $90 million to the Houston, Texas family involved in the crash.

Jennifer Blake and her children were passengers in a Ford F350 on I-20 in Texas when the truck lost control on ice. The eastbound truck ended up in the westbound, left hand lane when it was struck by the Werner Truck.

Zachery Blake, 7, was killed in the crash. Blake’s 12-year-old daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her a quadriplegic. Both Jennifer and her older son, Nathan, suffered extensive brain injuries.

Jennifer Blake claimed Werner’s student driver made a reckless decision to operate the truck in icy road conditions.

“This accident unquestionably had tragic results, and the thoughts and prayers of Werner Enterprises and its associates continue to go out to the Blake family. However, Werner Enterprises maintains that its drivers and the company did nothing wrong," Werner Enterprises’ Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Nathan Meisgeier said in a statement Thursday. "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."

Blake also claimed the student driver was driving at speeds which were too fast for the conditions. Meisgeier says the company disagrees.

“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. If an accident like this is the fault of the driver who was hit by the out of control vehicle, think about what that means for every motorist on the roads,” he said.

Meisgeier said Werner Enterprises will appeal the verdict.

“While Werner absolutely respects the jury system, we are surprised and extremely disappointed by the jury’s decision in this case,” he said.

Werner Enterprises is one of the largest trucking companies in the U.S.