Judge awards $18 million to man hurt in St. Louis County pileup, and wife

Published on August 25, 2009 by stltoday.com ST. LOUIS A man severely injured in a pileup that killed three people on Highway 40 (Interstate 64) last year is entitled to more than $13.8 million from a truck driver and his company, a federal magistrate judge has ruled.   The man’s wife has been awarded $4.2 million more.   The crash left Mark Tiburzi, 53, under constant care in a nursing home, unable to walk or talk, according to his lawyer and court filings.     Trial is pending on involuntary manslaughter charges in St. Louis County against the truck driver, Jeffrey D. Knight, who was blamed for the wreck. Officials claim he was distracted by reaching for a cell phone when his tractor-trailer rig piled into vehicles near Interstate 270 on July 15, 2008, causing the three fatalities and 14 injuries.   Knight, 49, and the trucking company, Holmes Transport Inc. of Muscle Shoals, Ala., were ordered to pay damages for Tiburzi’s injuries because “it was more likely true than not true” that Knight was negligent, U.S. Magistrate Judge David D. Noce ruled after a one-day bench trial Aug. 11.   In addition, Tiburzi’s wife, Cheryl, of St. Peters, will receive more than $4.2 million from Holmes Transport Inc., the judge ordered. The couple have two children and a grandchild.   Tiburzi was on his way to the Brentwood Promenade from Chesterfield when the crash happened. He was a district sales manager for Famous Footwear.   Court documents claim Knight violated regulations by driving beyond the maximum hours allowed over an eight-day period.   The suit was in federal court because Holmes is based in another state, Alabama.   Gary Wiseman, the St. Louis attorney representing Knight and the company, could not be reached for comment.   Two of the dead were Amish from northeastern Missouri, heading to a funeral in Tennessee with a hired driver. Lydia Miller, 55, of Canton, Mo., died the day of the crash; Alvin Mast, 88, of Kahoka, Mo., died two days later. Charles “Keith” Cason, 55, a copier salesman from Caseyville, also was killed.   At least two other families have civil suits pending against Knight and the company.

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