Second lawsuit filed against truck driver, company in fatal June crash
A second lawsuit has been filed after six people died and several others were injured in a crash on I-75 in June.
Truck driver Benjamin Brewer failed to stop and plowed into eight vehicles who were slowed down in a construction zone near exit 11.
The $12.75 million lawsuit names Brewer, the trucking company Cool Runnings Express, Inc. out of London, Ky., and company owners Billy and Cretty Sizemore.
Chattanooga attorney C. Mark Warren filed the lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday on behalf of his client, Justin Knox of Knoxville. The 60-year-old suffered a brain injury due to the crash.
"We want stricter guidelines as far as when a truck driver is involved in a wreck, taking them off the road pending the results of a drug test. Not giving the company the opportunity to decide one way or the other," said Warren.
Warren explained that the tragedy on the Interstate could have been avoided if Brewer's boss would've taken him off the road after a pattern of dangerous behavior leading up to the deadly crash.
Just one day before the crash, Brewer was cited for careless driving in Florida after side-swiping another truck. The suit said at the time of that crash, Brewer had been on duty for 45 straight hours.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Association, drivers must submit a post-accident drug test to their employer if cited after a wreck.
Warren hopes the lawsuit sheds light on current federal regulations involving drug testing truck drivers.
"A claim can actually change laws, change regulations, and change the way a business does business," he said.
According to the lawsuit, the company failed to show reasonable care in not only hiring Brewer, but also allowing him to continue driving without submitting a drug test after the collision in Florida.
Sources confirmed to Channel 3 last week that Brewer was using methamphetamine at the time of the crash on I-75.
"The drug test would've come back like it came back for us... that (Brewer) was hopped up on crystal meth," Warren said.
"What a lawsuit can do is create a legacy that this does not happen again."
Attempts to reach Cool Runnings Express owners on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
A second victim in the June Interstate 75 crash has filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and his trucking company, Cool Runnings Express, Inc, based out of London, KY.
The $14.75 million lawsuit was filed by Chattanooga attorney C. Mark Warren on behalf of his client, Justin Knox and his wife, Nomiki Knox.
The crash on June 25 claimed the lives of six people, and injured six others when a truck driven by Benjamin Brewer failed to slow and stop in a construction zone on I-75 near the Ooltewah exit.
CONTINUING COVERAGE | Ooltewah Crash
On the previous day, Brewer was involved in a crash near Wildwood, FL and charged with careless driving. No injuries were reported in the Florida crash.
The lawsuit also cites the use of methamphetamine by Brewer, which Channel 3 reported Tuesday.
He had been on duty for 50 consecutive hours, according to the NTSB preliminary report released Monday.
That put him in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations hours-of-service when the crash occurred.
Brewer was indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury, charged with six counts vehicular homicide by impairment and other charges from the crash.
A warrant has been issued for Brewer, but authorities in Kentucky have yet to locate him.
The lawsuit alleges Cool Runnings Express, owned by Billy and Cretty Sizemore, failed to use reasonable and due care in hiring Brewer.
The lawsuit also says that the company failed to perform an adequate drug test as required by federal law. They also failed to perform a drug and alcohol on Brewer after the Florida crash that preceded the fatal Tennessee crash.
The lawsuit is moving for an injunction to be issued that would suspend the business operations for Cool Runnings Express until a hearing could be held to determine the criminal history and safety records for the company’s current drivers.