Murphy v. Kanawha River Terminals, et al.
A young woman was killed when an empty coal truck braked suddenly and jackknifed across the center line of a two-lane highway. The plaintiff brought suit not only against the coal truck driver and the trucking company, but also the coal company whose coal the truck had been transporting that day and the coal terminal that had received the coal. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were engaged in a civil conspiracy in that the coal company routinely loaded the coal truck over the legal weight, which loads were routinely received and accepted by the coal terminal. The causal theory was that the coal truck driver inflated his tires to account for the illegally heavy loads when full, which resulted in tires that were "overinflated" when the truck was empty, which in turn made the coal truck susceptible to jackknifing in hard braking situations. Extensive testing disproved the causation theory of the plaintiff's expert, and the case settled during jury selection.