West Palm Beach, Fla. – As a law enforcement dispatcher, Lena Tucker was accustomed to highway patrolmen stopping at her bungalow in Montague, Texas, a tiny town outside Dallas.
So on the September 2012 morning her husband died in a car crash, she thought nothing of the trooper at her front door.
“When he got out of the car and took his hat off, he just said, ‘Oh God, Lena, I’m so sorry,” Tucker recalled last month.
About halfway through his 90-minute work commute into downtown Dallas, a drive he made for 20 years, Melton “Shain” Tucker fell asleep at the wheel on Highway 81. He crashed his silver 2012 Chevrolet Cruze into the beginning of a guardrail, which pierced the car’s front and rammed into his head, killing him instantly. Tucker was 46.
More than a year later, Lena Tucker is convinced her husband’s death could have been prevented.
Still, that hasn’t deterred lawyers and a competitor from questioning those crash test results, pointing to several collisions that produced deadly results. Should any of the lawsuits reach a jury, the verdict could largely come down to how a layperson interprets complex mechanical and engineering testimony, said Lena Tucker’s lawyer, Steven Lawrence.
Lawrence said Shain Tucker’s vehicle crashed into an ET-Plus end terminal and suffered damage consistent with a collision into a defective device. Lena Tucker has filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General against Trinity, part of manufacturing giant Trinity Industries, which reported revenues of $3.8 billion in 2012. It’s a first step toward suing the company, Lawrence said.
“That’s a situation where the ET-Plus as it was designed and built should have worked perfectly,” said Lawrence, based in Austin, Texas. “Then you see the pictures and it looks like (the end terminal) exploded. It shouldn’t be that way.”