An Indiana federal court judge awarded $15 million to the family of a man who was killed in a truck accident in 2005 caused by a drunk driver. The award included $6.3 million in punitive damages.
The verdict is probably “not real” in that I doubt there is anything resembling enough money to pay the judge’s verdict. No lawyer appeared for the trucking company, which means there is little chance of insurance coverage. But it sounds like this case set up like a classic bad guy truck driver and trucking company case. Not only was the truck driver drunk, but he had been driving longer than federal regulations allow. The trucking company did what happens more frequently than you think in truck accident cases (and, by the way, less frequently than you think in malpractice claims); they doctored their logs to conceal their violation of federal trucking law.
Making matters worse, the trucking company then started hiding assets and selling property right after the accident. This is one more dastardly example of truck accident lawyers defending insurance companies and advising – even publicly lecturing – trucking companies on creative ways to limit liability.