A jury in Oxford County Superior Court yesterday awarded $310,000 to the children of Richard Ray, who was killed in a three-way collision on Route 26 in West Paris, Maine on November 23, 2009. The collision occurred when Tricia Ann Beretz fell asleep at the wheel, causing her Acura to drift into the oncoming lane and into the path of a tractor-trailer truck operated by Midwest-Price Company, LLC, a forest-products business located in West Paris. As the tractor-trailer driver neared the Acura, he slammed on the brakes, but it was not in time. The Acura collided with the front of the tractor-trailer, knocking out its steering and causing the tractor trailer to veer across the road, directly into the path of the pickup truck driven by Richard Ray. The tractor trailer overturned on top of the pickup truck, crushing it and killing Ray.
Ray’s children were represented in the case by Attorney Benjamin Gideon of Berman & Simmons, a state-wide trial law firm. The children brought claims against Ms. Beretz and Midwest Price. At trial, Ms. Beretz acknowledged her role in the accident and admitted fault.Midwest Price denied any fault in the crash and blamed Ms. Beretz.
At trial, Attorney Gideon presented evidence showing that a number of the tractor trailer’s brakes were out of adjustment at the time of the accident. An expert testified that if the brakes had been properly adjusted, the braking by the driver would have slowed the tractor trailer preventing the rollover onto the pickup truck. A State Medical Examiner testified that Ray survived the initial impact with the tractor trailer and was killed only as a result of crush injuries he received from the rollover.
The jury returned a verdict allocating ninety-percent of the fault to the Midwest Price Company and only ten percent to Ms. Beretz for causing the fatality.
“This verdict sends a strong message to all companies that operate commercial trucks that they must be safe before they are placed on the public roads,” said attorney Gideon. “As this crash shows, heavy trucks that do not meet safety requirements pose serious dangers to all other motorists.”