I recently attended the 27th Annual Seminar of the Trucking Industry Defense Association, in Tampa, Florida, gathering with wonderful friends from across the county. As a bonus, we shared our hotel with some of the most inspiring Americans – recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor at their annual meeting.
The two-day educational program was kicked off by a state-of-the-industry presentation by Randy Guillot, the new chairman of American Trucking Associations. Mr. Guillot gave specific descriptions of how the siege of lawsuits against trucking companies affects the profitability of companies because of the expense of defending lawsuits, payments of settlements and judgments, and increasing insurance premiums from a downsizing of the insurance market. He gave a call to arms to those of us who defend truckers every day.
That address was followed by a discussion by a panel of insurance, trucking, and legal experts, of the view that more cases need to be tried, rather than settled, to help stem the tide of lawsuits. A well-known plaintiffs’ attorney gave his views of trucking cases from his side of the lawsuits, while the remainder of the first day saw excellent presentations on technology and whether advancements are creating additional standards of care, the potential tensions between safety and claims departments, and regulatory compliance, with a final panel devoted to urging a commitment to the sharing of information and ideas through an open forum to assist all who work in and who defend trucking companies.
The final day concentrated on controlling and reducing damage awards, countering the Reptile attack of the industry by plaintiffs’ lawyers, and some good news of some recent successful verdicts. A strong appeal was made for the defense bar to help respond to the onslaught of media advertising by the other side, especially targeted at trucking companies.
Our hotel was also home to the 2019 annual meeting of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, an affair that lasted all week and brought together 46 of the 70 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. (The ranks grew to 71 on October 31, 2019, when President Trump awarded the Medal to Sergeant Matthew O. Williams). Only two date back to World War II. A third, Francis Curry, had passed away less than two weeks before the gathering. Some 3500 Medals of Honor have been awarded by presidents of the United States since the Civil War, many posthumously. The 71 living honorees form an extremely exclusive group. To have had the opportunity to speak with some of the attendees, shake their hands and say “Thank you, sir,” was awe-inspiring.