California Highway Patrol Officer Sues CRST For $350 Million

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Trucking mega-carrier CRST has been sued for $350 million dollars for their role in a 2014 crash that injured an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and his brother.

In July 2014, brothers Matthew and Michael Lennig were on their way to Mammoth Lake, California for a family fishing trip when their vehicle was struck head-on by a CRST rig in a construction zone.

According to the 28-page complaint:

“As the Lennig’s traveled north on SR-14, they approached a construction zone near Red Rock Canyon. The Red Rock Canyon Bridge project narrowed four lanes of traffic down to two, separated only by orange traffic cones. Entering the bridge project, a CRST big rig, driven by Hector Contreras, crossed the orange traffic cones and struck the Lennig’s head-on at speeds in excess of 55mph. Matthew took the brunt of the collision and suffered a traumatic brain injury, severe injuries to his arm, and multiple fractures to his ribs. He’s since been diagnosed with PTSD. Michael, a California Highway Patrol officer, shattered two vertebrae and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Michael also suffers from PTSD.”

“CRST driver Hector Contreras has a long list of prior convictions ranging from driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and felony grand theft auto. CRST had also been alerted by his co-driver that Hector Contreras posed a danger to the public at large. Hector Contreras should have never been on the road, especially in a big rig truck,” said attorney Khail Parris of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm.

Days before the accident, CRST received an electronic notification that Contreras was traveling at speeds in excess of 99 mph, but the company failed to discipline the driver or take him off the road, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states that Contreras had four preventable collisions since he was hired by CRST in December 2013, and that Contreras was pulled over for speeding in a construction zone two months prior to the accident.

The suit claims that CRST failed to properly screen and supervise their employees. The Lennig brothers are seeking $350 million in punitive damages.

“CRST failed to perform an adequate background check on Hector Contreras, failed to follow their own policies, and failed to pull Contreras off of the road following numerous accidents before the July collision,” the Parris Law Firm added.

The full complaint can be read here.