W.Va. widow files wrongful death suit against trucking company

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 26, 2012

BECKLEY - The widow of a man who was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer and subsequently killed in June is now suing the driver of the trailer, its passenger and the company who employed the two men.

Andrea Dickens, on behalf of her deceased husband Jeremy, filed a six-page complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Friday.

In her wrongful death suit, Dickens names driver Michael Reeves Daugherty, passenger James Wallace and their employer, Central Refrigeration Service Inc., as defendants.

According to its website, CRS is one of the largest temperature-controlled truckload carriers in the nation. The company is based in Utah.

Daugherty and Wallace are not residents of West Virginia. Daugherty is a Kansas resident, according to Dickens' complaint.

Daugherty was the driver of one of CRS' tractor-trailers -- Wallace was the passenger -- when he violently collided with the rear of Jeremy's Suzuki at a toll gate on or near Pax in Fayette County on June 20.

Jeremy was stopped behind another tractor-trailer at the toll gate when the CRS tractor-trailer slammed into the rear of his vehicle.

According to Dickens' complaint, Daugherty was proceeding at an "excessive and reckless speed."

The force of the collision instantly killed her husband.

In her complaint, Dickens contends that CRS is "vicariously liable" for its employees' actions.

"The individual defendants and each of them failed to operate the tractor-trailer, hereinabove identified, in a reasonable prudent manner and acted or failed to specifically act in a manner to keep a proper lookout, recklessly exceeding the reasonable prudent speed, to properly stop and/or keep said tractor-trailer under control among other breaches of duty," she wrote.

The breaches of duty were "negligent," "reckless" and "wanton," and collectively proximately caused her husband's wrongful death, the widow argues.

Dickens, a Beckley resident and mother of two sons, ages 5 and 2, is demanding both compensatory and punitive damages and reimbursement of her attorney costs and fees.

Charleston attorney Henry E. Wood III is representing her.

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