Nov. 01–SANTA CRUZ — A San Jose law firm filed a wrongful-death suit against a Santa Cruz County construction company and a subcontractor the plaintiffs said didn’t maintain an overloaded dump truck involved in a deadly wreck July 17 in Modesto.
Plaintiffs Gagandeep Kaur, the truck driver’s widow, and their two sons are suing subcontractor Destination Anywhere and Granite Construction Co., according to the complaint filed Oct. 24 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court.
Granite Construction spokeswoman Jacque Fourchy said it is premature to comment on the details of the case.
“We take this allegation very seriously and are in the process of investigating the events surrounding this case,” Fourchy said.
Yadvinder Singh died when the dump truck, owned by Destination Anywhere of Tracy, had a worn front-right tire blow out on Highway 33 and rolled, crushing the driver, attorney Mark Boskovich wrote in the complaint. The truck was transporting materials from a Granite Construction facility in Tracy to a site in Patterson on Highway 33.
The lawsuit accuses Destination Anywhere of loading the truck 5,000 pounds more than its capacity while knowing it had worn tires, Boskovich wrote.
“They had a general problem with tires on their vehicles,” Boskovich told the Sentinel on Saturday. “With this truck, our driver had notified the boss about the tire issue.”
Boskovich said the supervisor was telling drivers not to go through California Highway Patrol weigh stations to avoid inspection.
The complaint cites federal trucking laws holding Granite Construction liable for the actions of Destination Anywhere.
Destination Anywhere had been cited by Highway Patrol seven times for serious tire violations, and on four of those occasions, its trucks immediately were pulled off the road by authorities, Boskovich said.
Motor carriers must ensure all vehicles and accessories are regularly inspected, maintained and lubricated to ensure they are safe, Boskovich wrote in the lawsuit.
“(The) defendants had their defective commercial vehicles operating but were instructing their drivers to avoid inspection at the CHP weigh/inspection facilities in violation of Vehicle Code 2813,” Boskovich wrote.
Boskovich said the lawsuit is another example of a small trucking company that is breaking the rules with severe consequences. He said large companies hire small firms to cut expenses. He said many small firms are not following the law.
“You can make pretty good money running a trucking business, especially if you cut costs in maintaining your trucks,” Boskovich told the Sentinel. “
The suit seeks an unspecified amount of damages for the driver’s loss of income, the loss of love and comfort, and it seeks injunctive relief — an order that would prohibit the trucking companies from violating the law again, Boskovich said.
The law firm of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, where Boskovich works, settled a similar case against multiple trucking companies for $9.5 million in August. That case benefitted the Santa Cruz family of Daniel McGuire, who died when a big-rig slammed into his car in traffic July 10, 2014, on Highway 17 near Bear Creek Road.
A trucker hauling dirt was headed downhill and was unable to stop, causing a 10-vehicle collision that injured seven people and killed McGuire. McGuire was partially ejected from his vehicle, according to California Highway Patrol.
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