On Thursday, July 26, 2012, in the 298th Judicial District Court in Dallas County, a jury unanimously concluded that negligence by an Oriental Building Services, Inc. employee was solely responsible for injuries sustained by Rene Leduc, an American Airlines baggage handler at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The amount of the verdict was $3,700,942.72. Slack & Davis attorneys Mike Davis, Mark Pierce, and Paula Sweeney represented the plaintiff.
On August 2, 2009, Mr. Leduc was driving an electric tow tractor or “tug.” He had just dropped off a cart of luggage at an American Airlines gate and was returning to the bag room underneath the terminal between gates C28 and C29. As Mr. Leduc entered the bag room area, a pickup owned by defendant Oriental Building Services and operated by one of its employees unexpectedly pulled out from his right. Mr. Leduc swerved to miss the pickup truck and hit a parked luggage cart, which resulted in a severe fracture to Mr. Leduc’s left leg, requiring multiple surgeries.
The defense, led by attorneys Charles Coffee and Brian Truncale of David Klosterboer & Associates, Richardson, Texas, alleged that Mr. Leduc was at fault for driving into the luggage cart. However, the jury decided to place 100% of the fault on the Oriental Building Services employee for negligence in the operation of his truck and failing to yield the right of way to Mr. Leduc.
Dallas County District Judge Emily Tobolowsky presided over the case. In a pretrial hearing the judge limited the testimony of consultant James R. Funk, who was hired by the defense. She excluded his accident reconstruction opinions, finding them unreliable.
After the trial, Slack & Davis attorney Mark Pierce commented, “This verdict was a strong statement by the jury in favor of workplace safety.”
“This decision confirms that established ‘rules of the road’ and safety most definitely translate to airport service areas,” attorney Mike Davis added. “The jury saw through the defendant’s attempt to shirk responsibility for its actions.”
Attorney Paula Sweeney summed it up this way: “This case shows the power of a jury of 12 citizens to redress a horrible wrong. They awarded a verdict that will provide security for Mr. Leduc when his injuries eventually force him out of the work force.”