Landus fatal crash lawsuit delayed to 2020
By JARED STRONG
A district judge says a jury must decide whether a heroin user who crashed into and killed a Greene County farmer in 2017 should have been tested for drugs before Landus Cooperative deployed him on-contract to haul grain, according to court records.
Landus argues that Troy Michael Shaw, 27, of Harcourt, was only employed by his family’s business, Shaw Trucking, which had the federally mandated duty to drug test him.
Landus had sought to be dismissed from a lawsuit filed by the family of Pat Fields, a 47-year-old Paton farmer who died when a semitrailer driven by Shaw crashed into his tractor near midday in June 2017.
Inside Shaw’s truck investigators found a burnt spoon, a pop can cut in half and cotton balls, all of which tested positive for heroin, according to court records.
Shaw “was known and rumored in the community, including by his parents and Landus employees, to be a heroin addict, heroin dealer, and a heroin drug runner to and from Chicago,” the lawsuit alleges.
However, Shaw argues that he wasn’t intoxicated at the time of the crash.
The traces of drugs in his urine were not of a high enough concentration to “meet the level of impairment,” according to his request to dismiss the lawsuit.
“No expert, law enforcement officer, (state) criminalist, accident reconstructionist or other witness has opined or concluded that Troy Shaw was impaired at the time of the accident,” Shaw’s attorneys wrote.
A district judge said a jury must decide whether Shaw was intoxicated and whether he should be considered an employee of Landus, which would make the cooperative subject to the following federal regulation: “Prior to the first time a driver performs safety-sensitive functions for an employer, the driver shall undergo testing for controlled substances as a condition prior to being used.”
A trial had been scheduled to start this month, but it has been delayed to July 2020, court records show.
It is estimated to last about 16 days.