MehaffyWeber Earns Complete Defense Verdict for Highway Contractor Client


After a two week jury trial in Kleberg County (Kingsville, TX), Mike Magee and Brian Armstrong received a complete defense verdict in a negligence/death case for their client, Hunter Industries, Ltd. (“Hunter”). In February 2017, two young men were driving together on a clear afternoon in Refugio County on US 77 when their vehicle ran off the road and vaulted into the San Antonio river. Tragically, both young men drowned. The families of the driver and passenger both filed suit against Hunter accused of not timely installing pavement markings on a stretch of newly resurfaced asphalt road where the accident occurred and thereby causing the accident. This was a significant win on behalf of our client.

The surviving parents of Oscar F. Fuentes and Ebenezer Oloba (Decedents) brought this wrongful death action both individually and as representatives of the Decedents’ estates against Hunter and sub-contractor, Roadsafe Traffic Systems. Decedents died in a February 25, 2017 traffic accident occurring on U.S. 77 northbound immediately south of the San Antonio River. With Oloba driving, the Decedent’s rented 2016 Chevrolet Cruze followed US 77 as it curved left over HWY 239 toward the San Antonio River and the county line separating Refugio and Victoria Counties.

Within the next 30 seconds, Decedents first crossed over a railroad track and then drove past River Ranch Road, which appeared on their left. Moments later, Oloba’s vehicle left the highway and traveled into the grass. When the car hit the grass, it straightened and (for reasons unknown) continued unabated through the grass toward the San Antonio River. As the Chevrolet neared the river’s edge, it narrowly missed the bridge railing to the left and a culvert and junction box to the right as it darted down the embankment before vaulting into the River below.

Upon impact, water exploded skyward as witnesses observed a considerable splash reaching the US 77 bridge. Seeing the splash, witnesses stopped with the intent to help. Indeed, currents were so severe, trained rescue workers found it necessary to postpone their search until the next day. Only then were workers able to locate pull the wrecked Chevy from the river. Once the water and mud cleared, rescue workers found Decedents, still wearing their seatbelts. A judge pronounced both dead at 2:22 p.m. on February 26, 2017.

Fuentes and Obola were students at Texas A&M University – Kingsville and traveling to College Station, Texas as representatives of the University’s Student Government.

Plaintiffs argued that had a white edge line been present on US 77, the accident would not have occurred. Further, Hunter improperly installed the adjacent pavement edge backfill. Hunter/Roadsafe argued Oloba fell asleep while operating the Chevy Cruze.

After a two week trial, the jury assigned no negligence to Hunter and Roadsafe, finding Oloba negligent with his conduct the sole cause of the accident.

Plaintiffs’ argued for approximately $450 million. Result: Zero Recovery.