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Werner Gets ‘En Banc’ Review of $89.7 Million Verdict

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After an almost three-year delay, a Texas appellate court docket has voted for all of its 9 justices to take over an attraction of an $89.7 million decrease court docket jury verdict towards Werner Enterprises in a 2014 deadly accident that the motor provider has steadfastly maintained was not its driver’s fault.

An attraction of that decrease court docket ruling has already been heard by a three-judge panel of the Texas Fourteenth Courtroom of Appeals in Houston. Nonetheless, decision was stalled after a decide on the panel retired earlier than a choice was issued.

“Upon its personal movement, a majority of this court docket orders en banc consideration of this case,” mentioned a July 27 submitting made after the 9 justices took a vote. En banc instances are people who can be heard and determined by all 9 of the court docket’s justices.

It was in 2018 {that a} Houston jury returned the massive verdict — one of many highest ever towards a motor provider — in reference to the 2014 crash. In it, a pickup truck pushed by a good friend of the plaintiff misplaced management on a slick interstate, traveled throughout the freeway median and collided with a Werner tractor touring on the alternative stretch of highway. A jury awarded the plaintiff the $89.7 million verdict, however Werner appealed that call in October 2018.

Because the events within the case awaited a choice, the court docket’s clerk despatched a letter in January 2021 to the events saying that “a number of” of the justices who heard the arguments had retired from the court docket earlier than a panel choice might be made.

Now the whole court docket will hear the case; nonetheless, a timeline has not been disclosed.

Werner’s attorneys wrote in a court docket pleading: “On the time of this accident, [driver] Shiraz Ali was continuing in his lane, in command of a Werner tractor-trailer and properly under the velocity restrict, when the [plaintiff’s] automobile out of the blue careened into his path, leaving him no time to keep away from a collision.”

A Werner spokesman

The plaintiff’s legal professional within the case, Eric Penn, advised the jury that the motive force was inexperienced, driving too quick, and shouldn’t even have been driving through the icy situations. He additionally charged that Werner was negligent for failing to adequately prepare and supervise the motive force for working in unhealthy climate.

Werner has denied these allegations and is asking the appellate court docket to “reverse the trial court docket’s judgment and render judgment of their favor or, at a minimal, remand this matter for a brand new trial.”

It’s unclear why the three-judge panel didn’t act extra swiftly to render a choice.

In a dissenting opinion on the vote to listen to the case en banc, Chief Justice of the court docket Tracy Christopher questioned why the three-judge panel was not permitted to concern its choice, which was circulated among the many justices in anticipation of a panel ruling.

“There is no such thing as a different attraction pending earlier than this court docket with related points, nor are there any recognized conflicts in our precedents,” Christopher wrote. “Merely put, within the 11 years that I’ve been on this court docket, there have been no grants of en banc consideration in a state of affairs akin to this.” Christopher added, “The panel majority opinion has been silenced — to not see the sunshine of day.”

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“There may be merely no motive for this court docket to ship the events on to en banc, not go go, and never accumulate $200,” wrote Justice Randy Wilson in a 32-page dissenting opinion on the vote. “Analysis signifies that within the historical past of Texas jurisprudence an intermediate court docket of appeals with greater than three justices has ordered en banc consideration of a case within the first occasion solely a few dozen occasions. The en banc court docket ought to clarify why it has taken this extremely uncommon motion.”

Justice Meagan Hassan, who voted in favor for en banc consideration of the case, mentioned that proposed opinion of the three-judge panel “tried to overtake this court docket’s well-established customary of overview regarding directed verdicts.” She added, “A majority of this en banc court docket has voted to look at this attraction and has determined that no extra briefing is important to take action.”

“It appears like the total appellate court docket goes to determine the present attraction, and we proceed to attend for that ruling,” mentioned a Werner spokesman.

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https://www.ttnews.com/articles/werner-gets-en-banc-review-897-million-verdict | Werner Will get ‘En Banc’ Review of $89.7 Million Verdict

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