This week, a Texas appeals court affirmed a multi-million dollar award issued to a truck driver’s family following his death in a 2013 pileup crash.

On December 1, the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals ruled to affirm a $16.5 million trial award issued to the family of Bhupinder Singh Deol for mental anguish and the loss of past and future companionship.

Deol lost his life in a crash that occurred in November 2013 on I-40 west of Vega, Texas.

The crash occurred during winter weather conditions when New Prime Inc. driver Sarah Gregory jackknifed in the early morning hours, causing her truck to come to a stop blocking two lanes of eastbound I-40.

According to court documents, “Gregory and a co-driver then abandoned the truck without turning on lights, flashers or flares, leading to a pileup of other tractor-trailers and a van.”

Deol was standing outside of his truck when he was killed.

Two people traveling in a van — Belinda Vasquez and Hector Perales — also perished in the pileup. A jury awarded the Vasquez/Perales family $22 million in November 2017.

In upholding the award in Deol’s death, the court found that the mental anguish damages claims required less evidence than other types of damages.

In the majority opinion, Justice Amanda Reichek wrote “The emotional impact of the loss of a beloved person is the most significant damage suffered by surviving relatives. In wrongful death cases, proof of mental anguish does not require evidence of physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, weight loss, nervousness, [or] personality changes. … Proof of the familial relationship alone ‘constitutes some evidence’ of the mental anguish a surviving family member experiences.”

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