A jury returned the largest verdict of its type in the state history last week in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a prominent Pointe Coupee Parish farmer.
The jury awarded $20.5 million to the family of Charles “Puddin” Glaser Sr. for their wrongful death and survival damages for more of two weeks of suffering he endured after the motor vehicle collision before his death.
The suit stemmed from a March 13, 2020, accident in which Rail 1, LLC employee Steven Cowart and a convoy of 18-wheelers attempted to deliver railroad equipment to Union Pacific. Cowart missed the turn and all three 18-wheelers attempted to make a U-turn on U.S. 190 near Lottie, according to attorney Rob Marionneaux of The Marionneaux Law Firm, who represented the four Glaser children.
The first of the three 18-wheelers successfully made the U-turn and served as a “spotter” for the driver of the second 18-wheeler, who was attempting to make a U-turn.
The “spotter” was on the phone with Cowart and had advised him of the approaching vehicle, according to Marionneaux. “When the next two vehicles pass, you, you are clear to go,” she said.
Cowart, took off, and neither the spotter nor Cowart saw the approaching Glaser vehicle, which was behind a van.
Glaser’s vehicle slammed into the 18-wheeler which was making the illegal U-Turn. Glaser was taken to the Baton Rouge General Medical Center, where he died two weeks later.
Marionneaux contended that Cowart should have never been behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler. He said Cowart had committed 13 speeding violations – each of which had been reported to his employer, via GPS, and was a violation of company policy.
Cowart received 33 such violations after the incident prior to being moved to a “shop position.”
Cowart was suspended without pay for causing the collision.
District Judge Alvin Batiste presided over the trial.
Attorneys Don Cazayoux and Lane Ewing of New Roads also worked as attorneys for the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs’ experts included Dr. Everett Bonner, Dr. L.J. Mayeux and accident reconstructionist Mike Gillen.
“A special thanks to the court and the jurors for taking the time to decide this most difficult case,” Marionneaux said. “This family is forever changed due to the careless actions of Steven Cowart. Their lives are forever changed and will never be the same.”