Trucking company sued for 2015 deadly I-75 wreck files for bankruptcy
Benjamin Brewer's former employer, Cool Runnings Express, Inc., filed for bankruptcy.
Brewer was working for the trucking company in 2015 when he caused a crash that killed six people and hurt several others.
The company filed paperwork on October 1. The owner, Billy Ray Sizemore, noted owing $331,323,094 in claims from lawsuits. However, the company claims to have only $101,423.91 in assets. Documents show $3.5 million is owed to the Close family.
“They're saying definitely this is a liability that's out there hanging over our heads,” said attorney Danny Ellis.
Last year, eyewitnesses testified during Brewer’s trial, including Tina Close. She recalled the moments before the wreck.
“There was a semi coming behind us in our lane very fast,” Close said while on the stand.
Close, her husband and their two young children were among those hurt while waiting in traffic. The family filed a lawsuit in May 2018 against Brewer and Cool Runnings Express, Inc. Ellis represents the family. He says they were set to start trial on Nov. 18, 2019. However, it was placed under an automatic stay (put on hold) because of the trucking company’s bankruptcy filing.
“I warned the Close family and then when I told them hey they filed, it was well we thought that's what was going to happen,” Ellis said. “I feel pretty confident we can get it lifted.”
Since the bankruptcy was filed in London, Kentucky, Ellis says it will be up to a judge there to give them permission to move forward with their case.
“All of the different parties that have filed suit against Cool Runnings will approach the court and say we understand they have filed bankruptcy, but there's this insurance policy in place. We will proceed against that. Also, if there are any assets left over we are making a claim against those as well,” Ellis explained. “It’s one more hoop that we go through to get to that final day."
It’s not clear when a decision will be made, but Ellis says the push to hold those responsible accountable will not stop.
“There's a lot of unknowns. It could be 30 days. It could be 3 months, who knows,” Ellis explained. “We have to look at the local rules to see if we have to hire a Kentucky attorney to file the proper motions with the bankruptcy court to move it forward.”