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Lawsuits & Litigation

Trucking Companies Slapped with $1B Verdict Over Fatal 2019 Accident

— August 30, 2021

A verdict was recently handed down against two trucking companies involved in a fatal 2019 accident.

For parents, losing a child is one of the most painful, unbearable things that can happen to them, especially if that death could have been prevented. Unfortunately, the parents of 18-year-old Connor Dzion had to experience this firsthand back in 2017 and filed a lawsuit as a result. Fortunately for the family, they were recently awarded a billion-dollar verdict. What happened, though?

Car on fire after accident; image by Wing-Chi Poon, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5, no changes made.
Image by Wing-Chi Poon, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5, no changes made.

The suit was filed after a “crash involving two trucking companies killed” Dzion, a UNF student at the time. The recent verdict determined the two companies were at fault for the fatal accident. During the litigation process, Curry Pajcic, the attorney representing the family, “blamed the companies for distracted drivers and improper hiring practices.” When speaking about the accident, Dzion’s parents, Melissa and Dave, said he “did everything right…A straight-A student, Connor Dzion had just started his freshman year at UNF.”

Tragically, Dzion’s life was taken from him on September 4, 2017. According to the suit, he was “driving home from his girlfriend’s on Interstate 95 when he stopped for a crash involving a semi-truck.” Pajcic noted the driver, “Russel Rogatenko, who worked for AJD Business Services, admitted to first responders he’d been distracted by his phone before the crash.” Right before the crash, Conner was stopped with dozens of other vehicles. Then, “a second truck driver, Yadwinder Sangha, who worked for Canada-based company Kahkashan Carrier, slammed into the sea of cars, killing Connor.”

Pajcic said a “data recorder on the truck showed Sangha was traveling in cruise control at 70 miles per hour and didn’t hit the brakes until one second before impact.” He added that after the accident, Connor’s car was “crushed beyond recognition” and noted that “Rogatenko was hired by AJD with no background check and no license to drive a truck.” He also noted that Rogatenko had a history of prior crashes and speeding. Sangha was also driving distracted.

Earlier this month, a jury ruled in favor of Connor’s family and awarded his parents more than $100 million and another $900 million in punitive damages against AJD. While discussing her son, Mrs. Dzion said:

“Connor was determined to leave his mark on this world: now Dave and I will do it for him, with him. This has to stop.”

Pajcic also said “there are good trucking companies out there,” the family just wants the “bad ones to hear the Dzions’ message.”


$1 billion verdict reached in crash that killed UNF student

Two trucking companies hit with $1 billion verdict in death of Jacksonville teenager Connor Dzion

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