Ciecka Firm Rolls Along

Two lives were catastrophically damaged forever on sweltering Rt. 295 during 4 PM rush hour traffic on July 31, 2015. A young mother and her infant daughter were severely injured when the van they were traveling in overturned, trying to avoid a concrete truck’s gigantic tire tread, caused by a blowout. They turned to the Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka and the firm’s major crash investigation unit jumped into action.

The firm hired leading experts in the field of tire tread defect litigation, and protected the clients by immediately issuing an 18-page spoliation of evidence letter, that required the concrete truck company to preserve all evidence vital to the case. That letter would come back to haunt the company and it would lead in part to a significant recovery. The trial court determined that the defendants tampered with and destroyed evidence that the Ciecka firm had immediately preserved by their spoliation letter. Sanctions were issued in favor of the clients. The jury was further instructed that destruction of evidence was intentional, because it would have been against the interests of the defendant concrete company. In effect, they were caught destroying incriminating evidence

The defendant concrete company’s fully loaded 86,000 lbs. concrete truck had a blowout on route to a delivery. It left a very large tire tread from its left rear tire, in the middle of Rt. 295 on July 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm, in the middle of summer shore traffic. The plaintiff van driver, faced with a sudden emergency, avoided the huge 12-foot round, 1-1/2 foot-wide tire tread, but struck a guardrail in the process, and flipped over. Evidence showed that the subject tire had been defectively made, defectively retreaded, and was negligently maintained by the defendants. Discovery also revealed that the defendant concrete company’s driver was rushing to make one more final delivery, because he was paid a bonus for the amount of concrete he delivered that day. The sudden emergency was jointly caused by all the defendants’ negligence.

To prove the case, multiple experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, 9-1-1 protocol, police accident safety standards, trucking, fleet management, tire manufacturing, tire retreading, digital cell phone data recovery, nursing, life-care planning, prosthetics, pediatrics, trauma, videography, surveillance, and other areas were immediately hired. The Ciecka firm forced the concrete company to preserve the tread and pull the subject truck from the roadway. Both were impounded and immediately inspected by plaintiffs’ experts while immediate legal filings forced the defendants to turn over crucial damaging evidence.       

The case was a 24/7, around-the-clock fight with the defendants for more than three years. Plaintiffs made immediate multiple discovery motions and legal filings to obtain crucial evidence including; immediate preservation and inspections of the tire tread; immediate impounding and inspection of the subject concrete truck; production of damaging 9-1-1 calls; production of multiple witness call logs; production of multiple police dashcam recordings; production of multiple police CAD abstracts; production of multiple defendant employee cell phone records; and production of defendants’ employees’ actual cell phones.

The facts revealed that the defendant concrete company had left the dangerous tire tread in the roadway for more than 25 minutes, that they did not call 9-1-1, and that they destroyed cell phone evidence to cover this up. During trial, even the defendant concrete company employees testified the tread left in the road was a “disaster waiting to happen.” Witnesses and other drivers were appalled by the danger that they encountered on that hot day in rush-hour shore traffic. The concrete company management denied they had knowledge of the tread in the roadway until they were confronted, at trial, with a recording of their own salesman employee’s telephone recording that the Ciecka firm uncovered during litigation. The trial team showed that this tragedy could have been prevented, if the defendant concrete company had made a timely phone call to the police department, warning them that the dangerous tread was in the roadway.

Due to the magnitude of the injuries and the defendants’ conduct, the Ciecka firm co-counselled with tire litigation specialists Wesley Todd Ball and Kyle Farrar. These leading tire litigation lawyers and their firm of Kaster, Lynch, Farrar and Ball joined forces with the Vincent J. Ciecka law firm to overpower the conglomerate of lawyers and defendant companies. This team approach and laser-like focus on discovery, litigation, and trial, allowed the catastrophically injured family of clients, to focus on their health, and on getting the medical care they needed and will need for the rest of their life. The Ciecka firm’s focus was to take care of all the litigation and legal needs, so as to allow the clients to focus solely on getting their lives together to be able to face their life-long injuries.

The defendants filed numerous appeals throughout the litigation that were successfully defeated by the Ciecka firm. The last motion the defendants filed, was to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which resulted in a favorable plaintiffs’ decision on the eve of trial. The Ciecka firm and their experts proved that multiple factors led to this tragedy including: faulty tire design, negligent retreading, negligent tire maintenance, and negligent tire abuse. The defendants blamed the critically injured plaintiffs and the minivan driver and the case proceeded to trial. The defendants argued for eight weeks to a Philadelphia jury that it wasn’t their fault. The jury listened to numerous witnesses and experts from both sides. After lengthy deliberations, the jury placed the blame on the concrete company. The van driver, represented by Daniel Sherry, Esq, was vindicated and was awarded damages for her injuries.

The plaintiff, a loving mother of four, who was a passenger in the overturned minivan, lost her left arm in the accident. Her daughter lost a part of her leg below her knee. Settlement was reached with all the defendants for the daughter’s injuries during the trial. The $10.6 million jury verdict, and ensuing $1.1 million delay damages, penalties, and sanctions was solely for the mother, and solely against the concrete company. It was in addition to settlements reached before trial against the tire manufacturer, during trial against the tire retreading company, and during trial for the daughter against the concrete company.

“The clients were resilient in the face of life-changing injuries. This settlement and verdict are a testament to their strength and both our firms’ dogged efforts. It became clear to the jury during trial, that the defendant’s conduct was not just negligent, but outrageous. This jury understood how badly our clients were hurt”, said trial lawyer Michael J. Dennin, who helped lead the investigation from the beginning and was the main client liaison as well as trial attorney. “Our litigation team worked tirelessly to uncover the facts that caused this tragedy, and to obtain justice for our clients. We vigorously fought the defendants’ attempts to minimize their responsibility. It is gratifying that the jury agreed with us and returned a verdict which finally brought about a resolution of this case,” said Joseph Urban, the Ciecka firm trial attorney who was local Philadelphia counsel of record for the Ciecka firm.

Tire specialist attorneys Ball and Farrar advise that these combined verdict and settlements are a national recovery record for all tire litigation cases filed in any Court in the United States for all time. The Ciecka firm proudly states that this record verdict and settlement outcome was a result of the combined team efforts of the entire Ciecka Law Office including litigators: Michael J. Dennin, Esq., Joseph Urban, Esq., Vincent J. Ciecka, Esq., Michael Sussen, Esq.; paralegals Debbie Trimble and Renee Piermatteo, trial assistant Kesha Person, claims assistant Kathleen Brindisi, and managers Robert Brown and Joseph Dennin. Everyone at the firm was involved in helping this family and holding these defendants accountable. The case was tried for 9 weeks in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The trial lawyers at the Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka have successful experience in cases against large tire companies. Tire tread blowouts and separations often cause severe injuries. It is completely unacceptable for a truck company, or any company, to allow an entire tire tread to fly off in the middle of the roadway. This case shows the importance of retaining an experienced law firm immediately, to coordinate investigation and preserve crucial evidence.  Without the right team, evidence and cases are lost. The Ciecka firm has the experienced team of tire accident lawyers in Philadelphia and is ready to assist you in your time of need. Call us immediately if you are involved in an accident involving a tire or any catastrophic injury and need a team of dedicated personal injury lawyers in South Jersey.

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