Two bright lives were snuffed out near Moncks Corner, SC when an unlicensed truck driver plowed through a stop sign. The impact killed the teen driver instantly and her 14-year-old passenger died several days later from serious injuries. When the families contacted the Joye Law Firm, Mark Joye fought hard to get the families compensated and to get the truck driver’s company to change its practices, so something like this could never happen again.
It was a beautiful spring morning and 16-year-old Leslie Groves had just received her driver’s license. On the Friday before spring break, the popular, straight-A student excitedly asked her parents for permission to drive to school that morning instead of riding the school bus. When they agreed, she called to offer her 14-year-old cousin a ride as well.
Leslie and her cousin lived in a rural, small town in South Carolina and only had a three-mile drive to school. In the same area, there was a work crew from a forestry company that operated throughout the southeast. This large company traveled all over the southeast to cut down timber and fertilize.
On this particular morning, they had an eight-man work crew that had been sent to South Carolina from Florida. One of the company drivers was unsure of where he was going. As the driver neared an intersection, Groves’ car was also approaching. Although the intersection was clearly marked with a stop sign, the company driver barreled through the intersection, colliding with Groves’ car. Groves was killed instantly, and her cousin died five days later in the hospital.
Both families were familiar with the Joye Law Firm and the similar cases they had handled in the past. They contacted attorney Mark Joye to look into their case and investigate this accident further. After accepting the case, an investigation was started immediately.
Shortly after, Joye discovered that the driver of the truck did not have a valid driver’s license when he was hired, and everyone on his work crew knew about the situation, but nothing was done by the company.
“It all boiled down to the simple thing that had the company done any sort of inquiry into this man’s background, the man would have never been hired and allowed to drive the truck,” explained Joye.
Joye vigorously pursued the investigation, traveling all over the southeast taking depositions and talking to people who had been employed by this large company. From these depositions, Joye also discovered that the company never did any background check on this employee.
“Nobody had checked to find out from his references what sort of worker he was,” said Joye. “Nobody had checked to see if the man had a prior criminal record, which he did, and that he wasn’t qualified to do the job in the first place. They just did absolutely no checking on this man.”
According to Joye, several workers on this man’s crew had complained about his dangerous conduct to management.
They reported on numerous occasions that he would stay out late drinking and then get up to drive the company truck the next morning.
In fact, this same driver had gone out the night before this accident drinking and using illicit drugs. His co-workers complained to the supervisor on the road crew that morning, but nothing was done about the situation, and this tragedy ensued.
When Joye finally got the opportunity to meet with the corporate officers, he found that the forestry company was one of the most profitable divisions in the corporation. Desperate for additional help, the company did not take time to conduct proper background checks because it would take too much time, and they had so much work that needed to be completed.
The company definitely did not want to go to trial and settled the case for a confidential amount along with a further agreement that they would institute new hiring and interview procedures for all employees.
“The company’s policy change made us feel good and certainly made the families feel a little better,” said Joye. “These families were devastated and wanted to make sure that there were changes made so hopefully nobody else will have to go through the loss that they endured.”