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National By-Products, Inc. v. Searcy House Moving Co.

Arkansas Supreme Court
731 S.W.2d 194 (1987)



On July 11, 1985, Robert Foley (defendant) was driving an 18-wheel tractor-trailer for National By-Products, Inc. (National) (defendant) on an Arkansas highway. The vehicle weighed 80,480 pounds, which was 480 pounds over the limit. Foley had exceeded the weight limit in the past without being disciplined by National. The Searcy House Moving Co. (Searcy) (plaintiff) was transporting a house along the same highway. When Searcy was unable to pass under a bridge, it stopped to adjust the house. While Searcy made the adjustments, traffic was routed through a single lane. Foley turned a corner on the highway going approximately 70 miles per hour, 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. Searcy was about 900 feet away. Foley made no visible attempt to slow down or stop. His tractor-trailer crashed into a vehicle carrying Stacy McGee and Lorene Staggs. It then collided into Searcy’s house and another vehicle. McGee and Staggs died. It later became apparent that Foley’s brakes were not working properly and that National was two-and-a-half months late in adjusting them. Foley himself, however, had been diligent with his personal daily and periodic inspections of the brakes. The estates of McGee and Staggs filed wrongful-death suits against Foley, National, and Searcy. Foley and National on the one hand, and Searcy on the other, cross-complained against each other. A jury heard all of the cases and awarded compensatory and punitive damages to the estates of Staggs and McGee and to Searcy. National appealed the award against it of $100,000 in punitive damages to Searcy.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Dudley, J.)

Dissent (Hays, J.)

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