The SC Court of Appeals upheld the six-figure jury award for a truck driver who was injured in a 2012 crash at the Port of Charleston.
Curtis Mills won a verdict of $ 616,710 against the State Ports Authority following a 2018 lawsuit in Charleston County. The price was then reduced to $ 300,000 – the maximum allowed against South Carolina government agencies.
The appeals court upheld the jury’s decision in a Sept. 15 order that also dismissed the SPA’s request for a new trial. The three-judge panel said the shipping agency had failed to raise whether Mills shared some of the blame for the crash. This means that the judges could not consider this argument in the context of the SPA appeal.
The judges also ruled that the jury’s verdict was not excessive and that the original court was right when it dismissed the port authority’s request for a new trial.
A spokesperson for the SPA could not be reached immediately for comment.
Ladson Howell, the lawyer who represented Mills, has criticized SPA in the past. When the trucker’s lawsuit was filed in 2014, he said “there is a model for negligent operators, trainers or supervisors or a combination of all three” at the port.
Following the appeals court ruling, Howell said he was “cautiously optimistic that the justice system would help make the port a safer place for its workers.”
Court records show Mills was injured when an SPA employee at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant used equipment designed to move freight containers from a chassis attached to the back of the truck.
The employee picked up a container that was still hitched to the chassis of Mills’ truck, court documents show. The lawsuit alleged that the employee raised the vehicle, container and chassis 6 to 8 feet off the ground, then began to shake the container until it came loose, causing the truck and chassis to fall. on the ground.
One of the SPA’s attorneys said during the initial trial that there was evidence that some of Mills’ frame locking pins were still engaged when the container was lifted. Truck drivers are expected to make sure all pins are disengaged. Mills testified that he disengaged the pins after entering the terminal.
However, sometimes the pins can return to the engaged position when a conductor passes through the terminal, and a witness said during the initial trial that the safest procedure is to verify that the pins are disengaged just before the container. is to be deleted.
Contact David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_