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Trucker's Widow Wins Appeal in Michigan

March 3, 2000

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The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a $2.35 million award against the state Department of Transportation related to a 1992 crash that killed a tanker driver.

Suzanne Meek filed the lawsuit after her husband, Richard Meek, died while driving an oil tanker through Detroit on a rainy evening. As he exited Interstate 94 onto a connector ramp for Interstate 96, the truck slid into a barrier curb and overturned. The accident ruptured the truck's fuel tank and the truck exploded.
Suzanne Meek claimed MDOT failed to design, construct and maintain a safe highway.
The Court of Claims agreed and awarded her $4.3 million, then reduced that award to $2.4 million because it found Richard Meek 45% responsible for the accident because he was speeding.
MDOT appealed the case, claiming it wasn't responsible for making sure the barrier curb was safe and saying Richard Meek's speed caused the accident.
But the Court of Appeals ruled MDOT was responsible for the curb and should have erected a warning sign because the curb was a "point of special danger."
The court also said MDOT should have been aware of problems on the ramp because of frequent accidents.

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