A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Louisiana recently continued a matter involving a trucking accident in light of allegations that the plaintiffs staged the accident to defraud the trucking company, Whitestone Transportation, L.L.C.
Frazier, et al. v. Runnels, et al., No. 2:18-cv-02340 (E.D. La.) was filed by plaintiffs Dimitri Frazier (owner of the car), Tiffany Turner (driver of the car), and Adonte Turner (Tiffany’s son) on March 4, 2018. Plaintiffs alleged they suffered injuries as a result of a side-swipe by Robert Runnels, who was driving a truck on behalf of Whitestone Transportation, L.L.C. The defendants counterclaimed on August 22, 2018, alleging that the plaintiffs misrepresented and/or staged the accident and/or damages and injuries at issue. The defendants allege Mr. Runnels did not experience any impact, the truck’s data system did not show any impact, there was no damage to the truck (even though there was damage to the plaintiffs’ car), and they discovered over 30 accidents with similar factual scenarios to this accident where an unknown vehicle waves down an 18-wheeler that is unaware he/she was in an accident on a stretch of I-10 near New Orleans. The defendants also found that all victims retained the services of Vanessa Motta, the plaintiffs’ attorney, that Adonte Turner’s brother, was an alleged victim in a different “accident,” and another victim was Tiffany Turner’s ex-husband. The defendants submitted a Facebook post where a user asserts that Tiffany Turner and her kids have faked such accidents before, and they also alleged that Tiffany Turner has a forgery conviction.
There is a current ongoing criminal investigation of the plaintiffs and the alleged “victims” in the other matters. As a result, the plaintiffs in this matter have asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Therefore, the Court was forced to continue the trial.
Although this is a very unique situation, it highlights the importance of a thorough investigation into the plaintiff(s) and circumstances in a civil action involving a trucking accident. Although the investigation may not turn up anything like this matter, it may provide evidence that is useful in defending your matter.