New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds $165 Million Verdict for FedEx Truck Crash
Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld a $165 million jury verdict against FedEx for a deadly crash in 2011 that killed three people and left an infant severely injured. The crash happened on I-10 between Deming and Las Cruces when a FedEx truck slammed into a pickup truck that was carrying a mother and her two young children. The mother, 22-year-old Marialy Venegas Morga, and her 4-year-old daughter, Ylairam Morga, died on the scene. Surviving the crash was Marialy Morga’s one-year-old son, Yahir Morga. The driver of the FedEx truck also died in the crash. Witnesses testified that the FedEx truck did not brake before the crash.
Marialy Morga’s husband, Alfredo Morga, was not with the family when the crash happened. He filed a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against FedEx, and Marialy Morga’s parents also joined in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that at the time of the crash, FedEx was outsourcing its truck driving to independent contractors who drove vehicles with FedEx logos. However, FedEx failed to train those independent contractors for driving in early-morning hours.
In January 2015, a Santa Fe jury awarded a $165.5 million verdict to the plaintiffs. This verdict is the largest civil award in New Mexico history. After the trial, FedEx sought a new trial or a reduced judgment, which the trial court denied. FedEx appealed that denial and argued that the verdict “was not supported by substantial evidence” and was “tainted by passion, prejudice, partiality, sympathy, undue influence, or a mistaken measure of damages.” Unpersuaded, the New Mexico Court of Appeals rejected FedEx’s argument and affirmed the verdict.
Still unwilling to accept responsibility, FedEx appealed to the state supreme court. On May 19, 2022, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the lower appellate court’s decision. Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Julie Vargas commented, “The facts of this case are nothing short of tragic.” Justice Vargas further noted that FedEx “does not contest liability or the economic damages awarded to Plaintiffs in this case . . . rather, they claim it is the award of noneconomic damages–those most difficult to assess–that render the verdict excessive and mandate a new trial.” Read more about this story here.