Mobile, Ala. -- On November 7, 2011, a Baldwin County jury awarded a local woman $350,000 against Sunbelt Furniture Xpress, Inc. Gregory B. Breedlove and Lucy E. Tufts, attorneys with Cunningham Bounds, successfully proved in court that a driver for Sunbelt Furniture failed to follow corporate safety standards related to operating a tractor trailer in reverse, which resulted in permanent injuries to a pedestrian in the area.
On September 2, 2009, Sandra “Sandee” Humphries, a local interior designer, received a delivery from Sunbelt Furniture at the East 180 U-Stor-It facility on Canal Road in Orange Beach, Alabama. Ms. Humphries met Sunbelt’s veteran driver, Jerry Porter, at the storage facility in order to take delivery of her purchases. Unlike the previous nine deliveries to the same location, on this particular day Mr. Porter decided to back up to the storage unit rather than park the truck parallel to it. As Ms. Humphries was turned to unlock her storage unit, she was unexpectedly crushed against the unit by the 18-wheeler with an impact so intense that it lifted her off her feet and left a dent in the building itself.
Mr. Porter admitted in Court that he did not adhere to company safety standards when operating his tractor trailer in reverse. He backed up when it was unnecessary to do so, he failed to warn Ms. Humphries that he was backing up, and he failed to stop the moment he lost sight of a known pedestrian. Fortunately, Ms. Humphries survived the accident, but she will endure disabilities for the rest of her life.
“If Sunbelt’s driver had only followed his employer’s corporate safety policy, this accident would never have happened and Ms. Humphries would not have been injured,” said Ms. Tufts. “We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict. We hope it prompts Sunbelt, and other trucking companies, to take action by emphasizing to drivers the importance of following all safety standards so that similar accidents can be prevented in the future.”