Posted On: June 25, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

Family of Prison Inmate Fatally Struck in Dump Truck Accident Awarded $2 Million Wrongful Death Verdict

A jury has awarded the family of Rodney Jennings $2.025 million for his truck accident death in 2007. The 28-year-old, who was a prison inmate at the time, was struck by the truck while he was in a work detail picking up trash. The defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit are private dump truck driver Wayne H. Goss Sr. and the state’s department of public safety and correctional services.

The dump truck accident happened on August 23, 2007. According to the other inmate crewmembers, Jennings and at least two other inmates were trying to cross the freeway ramp when a tractor-trailer and a dump truck approached and tried to go through the exit at the same time. While the tractor-trailer was able to get through, the dump truck went off the ramp and struck Jennings.

The dump truck driver, Wayne H. Goss Sr., said he “leaned on" his horn when he saw the three inmates. While two of them stayed in the grassy area next to the ramp, Goss says that Jennings ran across the ramp and directly in front of the dump truck. Jennings’ legs were crushed and he was knocked unconscious. A fellow inmate was able to revive him but he was later pronounced dead at a medical trauma center. He reportedly experienced severe pain prior to his passing.

Under state law, many civil jury awards have a $680,000 non-economic damages cap. However, the family’s truck accident lawyer says that his clients are likely to receive close to $1.4 million of the $2.025 million verdict because the jury found both the trucker and the state liable. Jenning, who was serving two years in prison for a drug distribution conviction, was scheduled to get out of jail in 2009.

Jury awards $2 million in highway death of Md. inmate, Baltimore Sun, June 24, 2010

Inmate on Work Crew Killed on I-495 in Pr. George's, Washington Post, August 24, 2007

Related Web Resources:
FARS Encyclopedia, NHTSA

Large Trucks, IIHS

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