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Defendants appeal trucking lawsuit verdict

By Sally Voth svoth@hotmail.com

A truck driver found negligent in a Shenandoah County crash that killed three people has filed an appeal in federal court.

John Joseph Banik of Coldwater, Miss., and his trucking company, Pat Salmon & Sons Inc., filed the notice of appeal on Thursday, according to online court records.

They are appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit a June 14 jury verdict and related orders from U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski, according to court records.

Urbanski upheld a jury's verdict awarding $687,500 to Pitt Ohio Express LLC and its driver, Thomas Troxel Miller of Three Churches, W.Va. The plaintiffs had originally sought $2.175 million from Banik, Pat Salmon, tractor-trailer driver William Michael Fewell, of Bedias, Tex., and from his company C. Bean Transport Inc. of Amity, Ark.

Miller crashed his tractor-trailer into a small car driven by Edinburg residents Hilario Guox Vicente, 27, and Ramiro Vicente-Ajun, 35 in April 2009. Their car was pushed into the back Banik's truck and burst into flames.

The Edinburg men, along with a passenger from Banik's truck, Dennis Lavelle Fayne, 50, of Brighton, Tenn., were killed. Pat Salmon and Miller paid $2.175 million to the victim's families.

Vicente and Vicente-Ajun had stopped their Hyundai because of a collision between Banik's and Fewell's trucks ahead of them on Interstate 81.

During the June trial, jurors didn't find Fewell or C. Bean Transport negligent, according to court records.

Urbanski upheld the jury's verdict following a July motion from the losing defendants.

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