Steven Burson was driving a tractor-trailer on the interstate during the early morning hours when he allegedly fell asleep at the wheel, lost control of the truck, and struck the median. The truck overturned, and its trailer stretched across the lane facing oncoming traffic. Soon after, bus driver Donald Bonner, 62, collided head-on with the trailer. He suffered fatal injuries.
Bonner is survived by his wife and one adult child.
Bonner’s wife, on behalf of her husband’s estate, sued Burson and his employer, Darren Nelson Trucking, Inc., alleging that Burson operated the truck in a negligent and reckless manner and that he failed to warn oncoming motorists that the overturned trailer was blocking the lane. The plaintiff also contended that Burson was not fit to drive because he had been hospitalized for a medical condition before the incident and had not been certified by a physician to resume driving a truck. Suit against Darren Nelson Trucking alleged respondeat superior liability for Burson’s negligence and direct liability for negligent hiring and retention.
The plaintiff claimed $160,000 in future lost earnings. She also sought punitive damages, alleging that the defendants had acted in a willful, wanton, and reckless manner without regard for the rights of others.
The defense argued that Bonner should have seen the trailer and timely braked to avoid the collision.
The plaintiff was prepared to show that Bonner was driving below the speed limit, at 54 mph, and had less than six seconds to react.
The parties settled before trial for a confidential amount.
Citation: Bonner v. Darren Nelson Trucking, Inc., No. 2:11-cv-00050 (D. Wyo. Mar. 12, 2012).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Angela L. Ekker and Mark Martens, both of Denver.