HENRICO, Va. (CN) - An unlicensed commercial truck driver carrying a load of refrigerated chickens at the tail end of a five-day methamphetamine binge lost control of his big rig and slammed into the car of a Sunday school teacher, killing her, the woman's family claims in court.
The estate of Karen Ann Whitaker sued Clarence Risher Jr., Edward Risher Trucking, CER Trucking and House of Raeford Farms, for negligence and negligent hiring, in Henrico County Court.
CER Trucking hired Risher despite his checkered past, including busts for hijacking a government fuel tanker, numerous drug charges and second-degree lynching, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff is Tammy Harris, as representative of the estate.
Harris claims the defendant Raeford hired CER to move its refrigerated chickens despite CER's bad reputation for drivers failing drug tests.
She claims that Risher went on a five-day meth-fueled drug binge in November 2013, during which time he did not sleep.
"At some point during his methamphetamine-fueled drug binge, approximately a day before the collision, defendant Risher along with two passengers, Tiffany Blair, and George Allen Hiers, picked up a load of refrigerated chickens from defendant House of Raeford Farms ... in South Carolina," the complaint states.
Blair was along for the ride to keep Risher awake, but failed to do so, Harris says. Blair is not a party to the lawsuit.
The truck jackknifed and struck Whitaker's car, killing her, the family says. Whittaker, mother of four and grandmother of five, had just left her job at the Four Mile Creek Baptist Church and was heading home.
"After the fatal collision, Henrico County Police officers found evidence of methamphetamine, and alcohol use in the tractor trailer," the complaint states. "Defendant Risher was operating the tractor trailer without a valid operator's license."
The complaint adds: "At the time the trucking defendants were hired to transport Raeford's load, neither of the trucking defendants had a qualified driver to operate their vehicles, several of their drivers had failed drug screens, and/or were arrested on drug related charges; one of the drivers had one leg and was operating vehicles without the proper documentation and testing."
Harris seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
She is represented by Jonathan Halperin of Glen Allen, Va.