Danny Hall and his wife, Laura, owned and operated a canine breeding and brokerage business in La Belle, Missouri, and routinely transported litters of puppies for shipment across the United States. In order to provide for the health and comfort of the animals, the Halls purchased a 2001 Ford Van with modifications including extension of the cargo base and installation of a generator to provide air temperature regulation for the cargo hold of the van. A second fuel tank, needed to power the generator, was installed in the crush zone in the back of the vehicle.
On August 27, 2007 at approximately 5:30 p.m., Danny Hall, 58, was traveling to Kansas City International Airport, carrying a load of puppies for shipment. He was traveling westbound on U.S. 36 in Macon County when he encountered slow traffic, and properly reduced speed on his vehicle. According to the State Highway Patrol, it was a clear, sunny day, the roadway was dry, and sight distance was almost a mile.
Traffic had slowed due to an accident, and Mr. Hall obeyed the rules of the road by reducing his speed, as conditions demanded. Tragically, Matt Engen, a truck driver employed by W.W. Transport, who was traveling behind the Hall vehicle, failed to reduce his speed. Though he had a clear line of sight ahead, Mr. Engen allowed his attention to lapse, and as a result was traveling much too fast for conditions. The semi-tractor violently struck the rear of Hall's vehicle, pushing it into a bridge railing, where it overturned. The fuel lines servicing Hall’s generator were breached in the impact, and the vehicle caught fire, trapping him inside. The medical examiner later determined the cause of death was not as a result of the impact, but of the resulting fire.
With the help of Dollar, Burns & Becker, Danny's wife, Laura, and his children, Ricky, Lorie, and Leeanett sued W.W. Transport and Matt Engen for wrongful death.
In partial return for a financial recovery of $5 million with W.W. Transport and Matt Engen prior to trial, the Hall family gave W.W. Transport the right to seek contribution from various parties involved in the modification and installation of the generator, fuel tank, and fuel supply lines in the cargo hold in the van. In addition, W.W. Transport agreed to implement the "Smith System", a program designed to establish and maintain safety management programs for trucking companies.
"Our experience with Dollar, Burns & Becker has been the finest example of follow-through we could have asked for. They were extremely professional, showed compassion and above all else, cared about us. Our calls were always promptly returned and any concerns or questions were patiently explained and answered. Tim Dollar's invaluable expertise and knowledge of the legalities of trucking law provided a positive outcome and makes our highways safer for all our families. They delicately and personally handled our case without ever forgetting the magnitude of our loss at any time. I would highly recommend Dollar Burns & Becker to anyone. They truly set the standards all law firms should be held to, and went unquestionably above and beyond the call of duty."
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