FedEx Appeal Fails in $165 million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In January 2015, a Santa Fe jury awarded a $165.5 million verdict in the case against FedEx over a 2011 collision that killed three El Pasoans and caused severe injury to a baby west of Las Cruces.
The verdict represented the largest civil award in the history of the state, and although FedEx requested a new trial or a decrease in the judgment award from a state judge, those requests were denied.
FedEx filed an appeal to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, contending the state judge erroneously declined its plea for a new trial or reduced judgment. The company argued the verdict was “not supported by substantial evidence” and was “tainted by passion, prejudice, partiality, sympathy, undue influence, or a mistaken measure of damages,” according to court records. The Appeals Court, however, rejected these arguments.
Attorney James Scherr of El Paso, representing the plaintiffs, stated the Appeals Court issued a legally sound opinion that confirms the power of juries to address significant questions. He said the lawsuit exposed FedEx’s business practice at the time of outsourcing its truck driving to contractors, who drove vehicles with FedEx logos. He said those drivers didn’t have safety training for driving early-morning hours, the “most dangerous time to be on the road.”
In response to the Court of Appeals’ opinion, FedEx said: “Safety is our highest priority, both within our company and across the network of service providers and their employees. While our thoughts and concerns remain with those affected by this tragic accident, we respectfully disagree with the appellate court’s decision and are reviewing our legal options at this time.”
The initial $165.5 million verdict was apportioned by the jury in the following ways:
$61 million for the wrongful death of Ylairam Morga
$32 million for the wrongful death of Venegas Morga
$32 million to Yahir Morga for the loss of his mother
$40.125 million to Alfredo Morga for emotional distress and the loss of his spouse and child
$208,000 to Venegas Lopez for the loss of his daughter
$200,000 to Georgina Venegas for the loss of her daughter
FedEx was deemed liable for 95 percent of the total, roughly $157.3 million, while 5 percent of the liability was attributed to Venegas Morga.