The family of a man killed in a 2021 collision in the United States has named an Abbotsford trucking company in a civil lawsuit in which they are seeking $10 million in damages.
The lawsuit has been launched in California by the Landwehr family against Bill’s Trucking, truck driver Harjot Singh and a second driver, Melissa Molina.
Ernest Landwehr, 53, and his wife Nancy Robles Landwehr, 46, were killed June 28, 2021 north of Tulelake in Siskiyou County, California near the Oregon state line.
The couple, who lived in Yuma, Arizona, were initially involved in a head-on collision with a Honda being driven by Molina.
The lawsuit alleges that Molina was impaired when she crossed into the oncoming lane.
About six minutes later, while the Landwehrs were still in their Mazda sedan, a commercial tractor trailer smashed into the scene.
According to US news reports, witnesses indicated that the semi had been travelling about 85 miles per hour (137 km/h).
The couple were pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck – a 2013 flatbed Volvo – was being driven by Singh and was owned by Bill’s Trucking.
Singh was initially charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and multiple counts of driving under the influence.
He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of DUI with injuries and was sentenced to less than 18 months in prison.
Court records indicate that his blood alcohol content was .19 an hour after the crash – almost five times the legal limit of .04 for commercial truck drivers.
The civil lawsuit from Ernest’s family states that the “combined negligence” of the two drivers resulted in his and Nancy’s deaths.
The lawsuit alleges that Bill’s Trucking was aware that Singh “had outstayed his work visa and was therefore an illegal hire.”
“Moreover, plaintiffs allege on information and belief that Bill’s was responsible for training Singh in the safe, competent and law abiding operation of its tractors and trailers in the U.S. and for enforcing a no alcohol on the job proscription,” the court documents state.
“Bill’s failed to educate, train or enforce its own operations policies with respect to Singh’s employment notwithstanding that Bill’s knew or should have known that Singh was unfamiliar with safe driving operation.”
The allegations have not yet been proved in court.