Colorado trucker in deadly pileup gets 110 years, gets emotional at sentencing

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I'm fairly ignorant with regard to safety equipment on tractor-trailers. Do they not build the brakes on these trucks to handle grades with a heavy load, within reason? Or, are they solely dependent on starting off slow, and keeping it geared down, with brakes as a supplement only?

drum brakes, retreaded tires, non-syncrhonized manual transmissions, and most trucks are older than the people driving them 70 hours a week
 
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If you hire someone with criminal record and he ended up assaulting another employee, usually the employer is going to be sued. If you have a farm or a restaurant or a meat packer and you hired people from a "staffing agent" then you are off the hook, of course those staffing agent disappear overnight and the people they send are not qualified. Sending those people to jail for 110 years will not discourage people from staffing this way in the future.
This. What about this sentencing will prevent this type of thing from happening in the future? Nothing. While I do think the driver is partially responsible, receiving basically the same sentence as a convicted serial killer is insane. He acted out of inexperience, not negligence. It would be completely different if he was texting, driving under the influence, etc. The companies that hire these people and give them inadequate training are really the ones who should be criminally charged.
 
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I'm trying to understand.

Are we saying the company that hired the truck driver (as in the trucking company) bears liability? That I do agree with.

Or, are we saying the company that hired that truck to carry its load should be liable? That I completely disagree with.

If a customer provides a fully legal load (ie: within the weight limits of the truck) and it is what it is represented as, it is the truck operators responsibility to deliver it safely.

There is no information here that the load was overweight or otherwise not legal.

Lastly, I'll just point out that there is a lot of conflicting information from the driver himself in this case. In interviews with the police, he claimed to have mountain driving experience. In court, he claimed the opposite. He stated he passed the runaway truck ramp because it went downhill (which it does in this case for those who know this route) which was different than the ones that went uphill that "he was familiar with", implying some understanding of mountain driving and responsibility. Multiple witnesses reported his brakes smoking for miles while the driver stated he never saw them smoking. HIs speed was determined to be on average 64 mph in a stretch where the limit for heavy commercial trucks is 45 mph - and for good reason.

Again - is 110 years the right sentence? That can be debated. But I have little sympathy otherwise. Way too many steering wheel holders driving trucks these days - not professionals.
 
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Or, are we saying the company that hired that truck to carry its load should be liable? That I completely disagree with.
What prevents a crooked customer from hiring a "middle man" to get off legal liability? This happens all the time, people are paid cash to load and unload containers in warehouses, but worker's comp / disability insurance not paid. When things happened the middle man fled, and "customers" off the hook.

Maybe a mandate on license and bonds like construction is ok, but punishing only the bottom little guy when the top guy made the savings and middle guy fled is a guarantee this will continue.
 

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A "Shipper" is not the driver, nor is the Shipper the transport company or the broker.

If I hire a truck driver (independent contractor or company) to move my stuff, and he gets in a accident, I as the Shipper may be liable for the accident.

Shippers May be Liable for Negligent Hiring

A shipper must hire a competent motor carrier. If a shipper hires an incompetent motor carrier the shipper can be liable for the damages and injuries caused by the motor carrier. To mitigate this risk and save lives responsible shippers investigate several factors:

(1) the motor carrier’s authority.

(2) safety rating.

(3) licensing.

(4) registration.

(5) insurance.

(6) safe operating record.

A shipper could also be held liable if its own experience with a motor carrier indicates it is operating its business in an unsafe or illegal manner. Shippers should be suspicious of carriers who offer rates significantly below other carriers, have poor safety records, or make trips in time frames that suggest they are violating hours of service regulations. A complete and thorough investigation by the injured party’s attorney can often show these red flags existed but where not acted upon.

Shippers May be Liable for Their Agents

Shippers, like other businesses may be held liable for the negligent acts of their agents. Motor carriers such as independent owner operators may be held to be an agent of the shipper under certain circumstances. The agent must be acting in the course and scope of his agency at the time of the event which negligently caused the injury. To be within the course and scope of the agency the acts must be part of the work which the agent was retained to accomplish and must be done to serve the interests of the master.

The agent does not have to be an employee of the shipper for liability to be imposed. The most important factor is whether the principal has the right to control the agent. If the principal has no right to control or direct the agent then the principal is not liable for the injuries caused by the agent unless the act was done in the manner directed or authorized by the principal. Blunkall v. Heavy and Specialized Haulers, Inc., 398 S.W. 3d 354 (Mo. App 2013).
 
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What prevents a crooked customer from hiring a "middle man" to get off legal liability? This happens all the time, people are paid cash to load and unload containers in warehouses, but worker's comp / disability insurance not paid. When things happened the middle man fled, and "customers" off the hook.

Maybe a mandate on license and bonds like construction is ok, but punishing only the bottom little guy when the top guy made the savings and middle guy fled is a guarantee this will continue.
This happens all the time with regular companies in other industries. That's why it's always private security guards that don't work for the company. Same with janitors, some private cleaning company. Look at Amazon, I think it was something like 190 people in the warehouse and only 7 of them actually worked for Amazon, the rest were all contractors.
 
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Wolf,

Can post a link about Amazon employees ?

It's in multiple sources.


 

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The guy was 23 when this happened. I'm not one to really judge based off age but that means at the time of the crash he only has a maximum of 5 years of legally having a CDL and max of 7 years of legally having a license. Assuming he told the truth when he told law enforcement that he had mountain driving experience (even though he said he didn't in court), his actions led to his sentence. He should have known how to drive in the mountains, take the runaway ramp, or steer it into a ditch as a last effort.

This happens all the time with regular companies in other industries. That's why it's always private security guards that don't work for the company. Same with janitors, some private cleaning company. Look at Amazon, I think it was something like 190 people in the warehouse and only 7 of them actually worked for Amazon, the rest were all contractors.

That's how it is with most government jobs too. When I worked at the Veteran's Administration, 90% of workers were contractors with zero legal representation in any case involving the VA or government directly. The VA was paying $100-$120/hour per contractor that was only seeing $18-$25/hour. If a full-time employee didn't like you, they could basically kick you out right there (not exactly - but you get how we felt.) Apparently it was also a way to make unemployment numbers look better.
 
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That's how it is with most government jobs too. When I worked at the Veteran's Administration, 90% of workers were contractors with zero legal representation in any case involving the VA or government directly. The VA was paying $100-$120/hour per contractor that was only seeing $18-$25/hour. If a full-time employee didn't like you, they could basically kick you out right there (not exactly - but you get how we felt.) Apparently it was also a way to make unemployment numbers look better.

Yeah that's how temp jobs worked. It worked both ways for me, sometimes they'd tell you a job was so many days, but sometimes it'd get cut short and you didn't know why, either they didn't like you or the ran out of money or just needed fewer people but it was a day to day type job. Other times they liked you and kept you on longer. The nice thing about temping was that you could increase your rate quickly between jobs. I think when I saw the bills, they were paying twice whatever you were making to the temp agency so they had room to give you an extra dollar or two. That was a long time ago so who knows what they do today.
 
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So, because he didn't opt for the runaway ramps, it went from manslaughter to homicide to cut a long story short?
 
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Wolf,

I meant link about contract workers at Amazon warehouse hit by tornado.



This truck made a mistake and will now pay the price. There’s so much turnover of new truck drivers I’m not surprised he had very little experience.
 
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Pew

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So, because he didn't opt for the runaway ramps, it went from manslaughter to homicide to cut a long story short?
That combined with his higher than legal speed (I think they said his average was 65mph - up to 85mph in a 35-45mph) and running into traffic whilst not dumping the truck into a ditch instead.
 
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Wolf,

I meant link about contract workers at Amazon warehouse hit by tornado.



This truck made a mistake and will now pay the price. There’s so much turnover of new truck drivers I’m not surprised he had very little experience.

You have to read between the lines. They didn't really know because they don't really track it. They said there's normally 190 workers at the place but when the tornado hit, there were only 7 Amazon employees there, the rest were contractors. I don't think they were at full capacity when it hit.
 
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So, because he didn't opt for the runaway ramps, it went from manslaughter to homicide to cut a long story short?
Mostly because he is poor and cannot afford a powerful attorney that can get even OJ Simpson off the hook. It is expensive to be poor and it is our legal system where nothing is equal. There are lots of these injustice everywhere (not that I think he deserves to not get anything at all, but 110 years is ridiculous compare to even war crime or hate crime getting less, for a big accident without DUI). I would give maybe up to 5 years max using my own standard.
 
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The company he worked for is equally liable for not providing any training, and should be prosecuted as such.
He's operating a commercial vehicle in Colorado, a commercial vehicle with an air-brake endorsement.
There are big grades in Colorado, he noticed them while he operated/trained on same equipment.
The State of Colorado made him take a test. Guess he forgot the answers.
I would not give him life, just thirty years per fiery death, 10 years per injured victim (6). And we're at 180 years, not 'life'. : )
 
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Mostly because he is poor and cannot afford a powerful attorney that can get even OJ Simpson off the hook. It is expensive to be poor and it is our legal system where nothing is equal. There are lots of these injustice everywhere (not that I think he deserves to not get anything at all, but 110 years is ridiculous compare to even war crime or hate crime getting less, for a big accident without DUI). I would give maybe up to 5 years max using my own standard.
Assumptions make a something out of someone and someone else
 
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So, because he didn't opt for the runaway ramps, it went from manslaughter to homicide to cut a long story short?

Vehicular Homicide in Colorado requires killing someone either via impairment or reckless driving. In this case, passing the runaway truck ramp, driving well in excess of the posted speed limit, swerving across lanes, driving down the shoulder for some distance, etc... were all considered reckless driving.

In addition, recognize it wasn't just the homicide charges - there were 4 counts of that, and 23 other charges, namely 1st Degree assault charges and attempted 1st Degree Assault charges... 1st Degree means "with a deadly weapon" - namely the truck.

The judge was required to implement the charges consecutively, not concurrently, under State Law. The sheer number of people involved and the number of charges are what resulted in the long sentence.

An example of being careful what you wish for with mandatory sentencing guidelines having unintended consequences.
 
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