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East Texas family awarded $730 million in wrongful death lawsuit

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:38 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 11:06 PM CST
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Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Landstar Ranger was involved in the trial. Claims against Landstar were settled before the trial began.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas family has been awarded a total of $730 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The case involved an East Texan, Toni Combest, who was killed in a wreck with an 18-wheeler hauling a propeller for a Navy submarine. It happened in February of 2016 on a bridge on Highway 271.

The truck was taking the oversized load from El Paso to Texarkana.

Combest’s family sued 2 A Pilot Cars, and though delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the case was heard in the 276th District Court in Mt. Pleasant. A jury awarded the family $480 million on Friday. Punitive damages were also awarded the family today in the amount of $250 million.

Claims against Landstar Ranger, in which the load was being carried under their authority, were settled before the trial began.

“What this verdict was, was a message that needs to be sent to the pilot car industry and the heavy load industry, that if you don’t follow state laws and you don’t follow your trainings and your certifications and a jury finds this out a jury will hold you accountable,” said attorney Brent Goudarzi.

Attorneys on the case say it’s the largest settlement awarded for a case involving a single person. The case took about a week and a half to try.

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