The surviving family members of four Wisconsin residents killed in a March 2013 crash on Interstate 65 near Glendale, KY, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Louisville. The victims, along with two others, were killed when a tractor-trailer rear-ended their Ford Expedition. The lawsuit names both the truck’s operating company, Highway Star, and the driver, Ibrahim Fetic, alleging that Fetic was driving in “an unsafe manner” when he rear-ended the vehicle, killing six of the eight occupants.
On March 2, a couple, their two foster children, their adopted daughter and their friend were “trapped inside (their) vehicle while it burned, resulting in their deaths,” according to the suit. Two passengers escaped the vehicle.
The lawsuit claims the driver had operated his truck in excess of the legally allowed number of hours, resulting in driver fatigue. The suit also contends that he was maintaining two sets of driver log books in an effort to hide his illegally long shifts from the government. The suit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages as well as a trial by jury.
The victims’ advocates are not the only ones who believe Highway Star is a dangerous entity—on March 22, the Department of Transportation shut down the company because it presented an imminent hazard to public safety by failing to ensure its drivers complied with federal safety regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared Fetic an imminent hazard, ordering him to immediately cease all commercial motor vehicle operations because of his illegal over-working.
An official investigation confirmed the lawsuit’s allegations that Fetic had been driving well in excess of regulations and had falsified his record-of-duty status log. The investigation also discovered that Highway Star allowed or required drivers to falsify their records of duty, so that they could not appropriately monitor shift hours and enforce compliance with federally mandated safety regulations.