$6 Million Settlement for Family of Driver Killed By Faulty Truck

garymathisOn Wednesday, JS Trucking of Yuba City, Calif., and Reliable Trucking Inc. of Concord, Calif., agreed to pay a $6.04 million settlement to the family of Gary Mathis.

Mathis, 43, died June 28, 2011, on Highway 20 when his vehicle collided head-on with a semi-truck owned by Jasbir Singh Sangha of JS Trucking. The semi-truck was hauling Reliable Trucking Inc. trailers.

Yuba County prosecutors said Sangha knew the truck’s brakes were poorly adjusted and the tires were bald on the day of the crash. The bad tires and faulty brakes caused the truck to fishtail into Mathis’ truck, according to authorities.

In addition to knowing about the faulty rig, after the crash, Sangha supplied phony lease and liability waivers, claiming he had sold the truck to the driver, Ernest Coublucq, a week prior to the deadly accident.

Sangha eventually pleaded no contest to falsifying evidence and was sentenced to six months in jail with five years on probation. Coublucq pleaded no contest in August to a misdemeanor for vehicular manslaughter and will serve five years of probation and served four days in jail, according to court records. Court documents also indicate Sangha no longer owns JS Trucking.

Gary Mathis’ mother, Gloria, said, “We want the community to realize how many [trucks] there are on our streets with our loved ones every day and some have no regard for the law or safety.” Gary Mathis’ father, Orval Mathis, said the family agreed to release the settlement amount to send a message to the trucking community. “We hope this will change the policies of the trucking industry.”

“It’s hard because no amount of money can replace your child or your loved one,” Orval Mathis said.

The family’s attorney, Roger Dreyer, said the settlement will allow Gary Mathis to provide for his daughter’s future. Pheona is 13-years-old.

“No amount of money can make up the loss of a parent like Gary,” said Dreyer. “But it’s a sum that provides his daughter with a legacy of support that will assist her and her family for the rest of her life.”

Reliable Trucking President Steven Gonsalves said the company will now require proof of inspections from certified mechanics on their tractor’s breaks and tires and also demand company subcontractors, like Jasbir Singh Sangha’s company, to provide daily inspection reports. Additionally, the company will require independent contractors to prove certain safety inspections on those trucks were conducted by the California Highway Patrol.

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