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Case Style: Carolyn Covel, et al. v. Elias Rodriguez and Pedro Rodriguez d/b/a Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa and Republic Western Insurance Company
Case Number: CJ-03-00329
Judge: Candace Blalock
Court: District Court, McClain County, Oklahoma
Greg Dixon, Montgomery & Montgomery, Purcell, Oklahoma
Russell Mullinix, Mulinix, Ogden, Hall, Andrews & Ludlam, P.L.L.C, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tim McCormick, McCormick, Schoenenberger & Robertson, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Glynis Edgar, Glynis C. Edgar, P.C., Norman, Oklahoma
The Family and Estate of Hubert "H.K." Covel, Jr., age 67, sued Elias Rodriguez and Pedro Rodriguez, doing business as, Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa and Republic Western Insurance Company, an Arizona corporation, . on negligence theories for the wrongful death of Covel who was killed in a car bus crash on I-35 near Goldsby, Oklahoma in March 2001. Covel was killed after his Ford pickup that was traveling north in the inside lane of I-35 was bumped by another vehicle and went across the median and was struck by a southbound tour (charter) bus head-on. The Rodriguezs were in a 1996 Dina Viag charter-type bus loaded with about 21 passengers at the time of the accident. The bus had been purchased in October 2000 by the Rodriguezs. In November, 2000 a bus servicing facility in Tulsa inspected the bus and told the defendants the bus "urgently" needed brake work. An expert witness testified that Covel would not have died if the bus had been equipped with the proper air brakes and if the driver, who had no training nor a CDL license, would have paid better attention.
The defense asserted by defendants was primarily unavoidable accident and the trial judge instructed the jury on that issue.
Outcome: Plaintiffs' verdict for $2.8 million and will exceed 3.8 million with the addition of prejudgment interest.
Dr. Mark Strauss, Accident Reconstructionist (Illinois Ruhl Forensices) and Dr. Will Clark, economic expert ( University of Oklahoma)
Jay Pfiefer, Accident Reconstructionist (Wichita, Kansas)??
Comments: Largest jury verdict in McClain County history, prior record verdict was $670,000. Also, the jury found by clear and convincing eveidence that H.K.Covell was not at fault (0%) in the accident.??