In the middle of trial, a $16 million settlement was reached for a Texas wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a woman whose vehicle was crushed when oil field equipment fell off of the defendant’s tractor-trailer.
The case involved the death of Rhonda Henson, who was killed in the truck accident on September 11, 2008. The complaint was filed against Pioneer Drilling Co., PDC MGMT Co., Pioneer Drilling Services and Daniel Armstrong, who was driving the tractor trailer at the time of the crash, even though he was not legally qualified to operate the truck.
Following the accident, police reported that Armstrong failed to control his speed and that the truck’s load was improperly secured, allowing a spreader bar to fall off the truck and crush Henson’s vehicle.
During testimony in the tractor trailer accident lawsuit, Armstrong took the stand and began giving conflicting testimony. Armstrong admitted that he and other Pioneer officials had backdated and falsified documents in his employee file after the fatal crash so that he appeared to meet truck driver qualifications.
Judge Bill Bosworth of the 413th District Court in Texas stopped Armstrong’s testimony, to give him the chance to consult with an attorney before he incriminated himself further. Pioneer then decided to settle the wrongful death lawsuit after the third day of trial, agreeing to pay the family $16 million.
Armstrong admitted to numerous driving violations, license suspensions and at least one incident of driving under the influence.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations stipulate that drivers holding a commercial drivers license (CDL) cannot have any record of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They must also be free of any convictions of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle. Additionally, states will deny a CDL to any driver who already have a license suspended in another state.
There have been no criminal charges filed against Armstrong.