The Flynn Law Firm represents Hunter Wainscott, a baptist missionairy from South Carolina who was severely injured by a runaway trailer in Bakersfield, California on August 2, 2017. During the summer of 2017, Hunter and his friend Michael Evans were traveled across the country on an informal mission trip. On August 2, 2017, the pair arrived in Bakersfield, California, with the intention of visiting local churches and helping local residents who were less fortunate. While walking down Wible Road, the pair was struck by a loaded trailer which had come free from the vehicle it was attached to.
Flynn Law Firm was hired to represent Mr. Wainscott, and immediately undertook a detailed investigation of the facts and circumstances of the August 2, 2017 trailer accident. Our investigation revealed that the accident was entirely preventable and the result of gross negligence of both the company hauling the trailer, Marchant Site Development, and the company which loaded the trailer, Rancho Building Materials, both of Bakersfield, California.
(Photo of Hunter Wainscott)
On or about August 2, 2017, two gentleman, GARCIA and DIAZ, were directed by Marchant Site Developement to drive the Truck and Trailer to RANCHO BUILDING MATERIALS, INC. to pick up 100 concrete masonry unit blocks (the “CMU’s”) for use on a MARCHANT SITE DEVELOPMENT, INC. jobs. Marchant Site Development is owned by Kristopher Dean Marchant, also of Bakersfield California.
In preparation for this assignment, on August 2, 2017, DIAZ and GARCIA worked in conjunction with each other, at MARCHANT SITE DEVELOPMENT, INC.’s premise, to attach the Trailer’s tongue coupler to the Truck’s towing ball and to connect the Trailer’s thin emergency breakaway brake activation cable to the Truck’s tow hitch.
In the course of attaching the Trailer to the Truck, GARCIA and DIAZ were aware that the Trailer had no functioning safety chains or safety cables to attach to the Truck and that faulty wiring on the Trailer prevented the Trailer’s emergency braking system from working.
Kristopher Dean MARCHANT personally inspected the hookup of Trailer to Truck after Defendants GARCIA and DIAZ completed it, but ignored the fact that the Trailer lacked functioning safety chains or cables and had faulty wiring, which prevented the Trailer’s lights and emergency braking system from working.
Trailers are equipped with safety chains or cables and emergency braking systems as backup safety precautions in the event the tongue and ball or other mechanical connection fails to secure a trailer to a truck. After hooking the Trailer to the Truck, GARCIA, accompanied by DIAZ, drove the Truck and attached Trailer to RANCHO BUILDING MATERIALS, INC. to purchase CMUs to be loaded onto the trailer.
At RANCHO BUILDING MATERIALS, INC., GARCIA and DIAZ watched as Defendant PERALTA used a forklift to load a pallet of the CMUs onto the Trailer bed.
Defendant PERALTA loaded the CMUs onto the rearmost edge of the Trailer bed.
The CMU pallet’s weight at the rear of the Trailer bed weighed approximately 2,500 pounds. This weight caused the Trailer’s rear to be lower than the Trailer’s front, creating negative tongue weight and causing undue stress on the tongue and ball connection between the Trailer and the Truck. Negative tongue weight creates an extremely dangerous condition for towing a trailer and presents an immediate safety hazard because negative tongue weight can cause a trailer to detach from the towing vehicle.
The manner in which the CMU’s were positioned in the Trailer bed presented an immediate hazard that the Trailer would detach from the Truck.
PERALTA did not position the CMU pallet closer to the Trailer’s axle to stabilize the load.
Defendants GARCIA and DIAZ, while in the course and scope of their employment with MARCHANT SITE DEVELOPMENT, INC., drove away from RANCHO BUILDING MATERIALS, INC. in the Truck and Trailer, heading North on Wible Road in Bakersfield, California.
GARCIA and DIAZ knew the Trailer was improperly loaded and created a safety risk when they drove away from RANCHO BUILDING MATERIALS, INC. As they drove north on Wible Road, if they had been paying attention, GARCIA and DIAZ, while acting in the course and scope of their employment with Defendant MARCHANT SITE DEVELOPMENT, INC., would have observed the Trailer’s rear was significantly lower than the Trailer’s front and the Trailer’s front was lifting up the rear of the Truck, signaling undue stress on the connecting tongue and ball and presenting an immediate hazard of detaching.
Instead of remaining alert to what they knew was an extremely hazardous condition, GARCIA and DIAZ were both preoccupied with their cell phones as they proceeded north on Wible Road and failed to notice the impending danger. Approximately three minutes after leaving Rancho, Inc., the Trailer detached from the Truck and traveled north, passing the Truck, jumping the sidewalk curb and continuing to travel along the east sidewalk of Wible Road. At the time the Trailer detached and jumped the sidewalk, WAINSCOTT and his friend and traveling companion Michael Franklin Evans (“EVANS”) were pedestrians, lawfully walking north on the east sidewalk of Wible Road.
The Trailer violently struck WAINSCOTT and EVANS, throwing both of them into the Trailer’s bed, where the CMU’s were dislodging from the pallet and randomly being thrust into the air and throughout the Trailer’s bed.
After striking WAINSCOTT and EVANS, the Trailer continued northeast, crossing the eastbound lanes of White Lane where it intersected with Wible Road, striking a signal pole and another vehicle, which in turn caused a chain reaction between two other vehicles before the Trailer finally came to rest.