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Suit filed for trucker's death after Pennsylvania mountain plunge

A 50-year-old Pennsylvania man died last spring when the water truck he was driving pitched off a mountain. The widow of the Lock Haven man has since filed a wrongful death claim against Anadarko Petroleum and its associated companies claiming the man's death was caused by the companies' negligence.

The man who died worked for Trans Teach Logistics Inc., a company dismissed as a defendant in the lawsuit. The company said the civil claim was unnecessary since the fatal truck accident was covered under the state's Workers' Compensation Act.

Court papers say the truck driver lost his life when the brakes failed on the work truck he was driving. The driver lost control and veered off the road. The truck crashed and rolled down the side of a mountain, killing the worker.

The remaining defendants in the case -- Anadarko and QC Energy, plus QC subsidiaries -- were accused of providing the truck driver with an unsafe vehicle. The wrongful death lawsuit claims the water truck was poorly maintained and unfit for the road. The companies were also charged with failing to train the driver properly for unusual driving conditions.

Lawyers for the defendants argued that the fatal accident was the driver's fault. They said the trucker was speeding, neglected to stay in control of the rig and braked at the wrong time.

The plaintiff will have to provide clear and convincing evidence that Anadarko Petroleum and the QC Energy companies were responsible for the driver's death before a jury will award appropriate damages.

The widow stands to win a sizeable amount of damages if what she claims is true. A negligent employer in a case like this could face heavy punitive damages, if it can be shown that the companies routinely and recklessly disregarded employee safety.

Punitive damages added to wrongful death claims are designed to prevent careless employers or other defendants from committing the same violations in the future.

Source: landlinemag.com, "Widow alleges faulty brakes caused husband's fatal crash," Clarissa Kell-Holland, Oct. 2, 2012

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