In a personal injury case on February 27, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that David Perry’s years of driving an 18 wheeler across three miles of dirt road to a sand pit were not sufficient enough warning for him to watch out for potholes and neither were speed limit signs all along the road.
Six justice affirmed a jury verdict from Liberty County, Texas that held the owners of Dolen Sand Pit partly responsible for the injuries Perry suffered when he bumped his head on the roof of his truck at a cattle crossing.
Justice Paul Green wrote that “If a duty is owed, an adequate warning is required.”
Perry drove Campbell Ready Mix trucks for seven years prior to the incident. He would regularly haul sand and gravel from the Dolen pit to a concrete pit an hour away.
Posted speed limit signs along the road have the limit at 15 and 25 miles per hour.
As Perry was driving at a speed between 10 and 15 mph to the pit for the fourth time one day, he struck a pothole at the cattle crossing, causing him to hit his head on the roof. He then dropped back in his seat and radioed to Jeff Casey, a fellow Campbell Ready Mix driver who was not far behind.
The two drivers continued on to the pit, loaded, weighed, and left.
Perry reported the injury several weeks later. He filed suit against TXI Operations, the owner of Dolen Sand Pit, three days before the two year statue of limitations would have expired.
According to Perry, TXI was in violation of its duty to warn him of danger. TXI responded that he was aware of the danger and drove too fast.
The jurors found Perry and TXI to be equally liable in the incident and damages were set at $387,477.35.
Half the damages against TXI were assessed by Liberty County District Judge Chap Cain.
TXI filed an appeal, saying that Perry should have been adequately warned by the speed limit signs along the road.
The verdict was affirmed by the Ninth District appeals court in Beaumont. TXI then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which also failed.
Justice Green said that speed limit signs do not generally inform the driver of road hazards, nor do they identify the specific hazard TXI said they were supposed to warn of.Green wrote that the sign’s inadequacy was supported by the evidence that Perry was following its instruction when the injury occurred. He also said that an alternative to providing adequate warning would have been to repair the pothole.