Transportation Brief: New Texas Law Paving the Way to Curbing Nuclear Verdicts
August 25, 2021
With “runaway” jury verdicts in trucking accident cases on the rise in recent years, a new law may give trucking companies some relief in one major venue. Effective September 1st, Texas law will provide defendants in these cases the right to a bifurcated trial. The first trial phase will be limited to a determination of liability for compensatory damages. Next, any liability for punitive damages will be determined in the second phase of the trial. Evidence of a defendant’s failure to comply with a regulation (like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) may only be presented during the second phase with some exceptions. Several Texas jury verdicts have exceeded $100 million in recent years. The industry is hopeful and optimistic that this new law will combat the reptile theory, curb nuclear verdicts, and set an example for other jurisdictions.
Transportation Brief: Labor Meets Transportation in Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bills
by Gregory M. Feary , Prasad SharmaCongress is making progress, albeit in fits and starts, towards passing a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill. Both versions of these massive bills not only authorize highway spending, but also contain numerous policy-related provisions aimed at trucking. While the future of the legislation and the final provisions are uncertain, now is a good time to look at what may be coming down the road.
Transportation Brief: Ninth Circuit Addresses Piece-rate Pay Plans
by James H. Hanson , E. Ashley PaynterIn Ayala v. U.S. Xpress, Inc., the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that a properly drafted piece-rate compensation pay plan that pays for delivered loads can cover both the time spent driving as well as the time spent performing non-driving activities associated with delivering the loads. How can companies address how drivers earn their activity-based pay?
Transportation Brief: Collections During COVID and Beyond – Protecting Your Warehouse
by Kevin M. Phillips , Michael D. ReedDuring the height of the pandemic, businesses, including warehouses, were presented with a new world of challenges. One such challenge present before and during the pandemic is collections. The good news is that warehouses can take certain actions to be better positioned to handle this age-old problem.
Transportation Brief: Questions Remain After Change in Export Air Cargo Rules
by Braden K. Core , Nathaniel G. SaylorIn the Spring 2021 edition of The Transportation Brief, we advised on an upcoming change to the rules governing cargo offered for international air transportation. The new rule, effective June 30, 2021, requires all cargo to be screened or handled pursuant to an “alternative framework.” This has caused significant disruption in the supply chain as shippers, air forwarders, and all-cargo aircraft operators attempt to navigate new compliance obligations. Read more about these difficulties and how to stay ahead of the curve.
Transportation Brief: Spotlight on Investigations and Audits
Kelli M. Block , Braden K. Core , Gregory M. Feary , A. Jack Finklea , James H. Hanson , Christopher C. McNatt , Steven A. Pletcher , David D. Robinson , Nathaniel G. Saylor , Rebecca S. TrennerWhile the transportation industry is largely deregulated, a surprising number of federal, state, and local government agencies write and administer a long—and growing—list of rules affecting transportation providers. These agencies regularly inspect for noncompliance, and they have the power to assess civil penalties for violations, place assets “out of service,” or worse. When the inspectors come calling, it is important to be prepared.
- On the Road
Scopelitis attorneys are often invited to participate in meetings with transportation industry leaders. Learn more about their trips this quarter.
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