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Lawsuit Filed In Alderwood Accident With Parked Semi Truck That Killed 3 Teens

Posted on Jun 07, 2020

three teens killed in accident with parked semi trailer
Photo: Teen's vehicle after deadly accident with parked semi-trailer.

Davis Law Group has filed a serious injury lawsuit (20-2-09039-5 SEA) in King County Superior court on behalf of a teen girl who was the only survivor of a July 2017 accident which involved a parked semi-truck trailer that took the lives of three of her friends.

Fifteen-year-old Kiley O’Laughlin was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries to her head/face and torso after the car that she and three friends were traveling in struck a semi-trailer that was parked facing the wrong way on Alderwood Parkway on July 28, 2017. 

Due to the fact that the trailer was parked backwards, against the flow of traffic, the teen’s Kia Sorrento went under the semi at impact--sheering off the roof and instantly killing 3 of the teens in the vehicle. 

The civil lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court on May 20, 2020, claims that the semi-trailer was illegally and negligently parked. The suit names Wabash National Corporation; Trillium Management, Inc; McKinney Vehicle Services, Inc.; Spirit Transpiration Systems, Inc (STS), Key Trucking Inc, Landon Staley and SP Trucking

DLG Case No. 201755

The Victims

  • Kiley O’Laughlin – Only survivor.  Age 15.  Student at Cascade High School.
  • Landon Staley – Deceased driver.  Age 16.  Student at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek
  • Travin Nelson-Phongphiou – Deceased passenger.  Age 16.  Student at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek
  • Mikayla Sorenson – Deceased passenger.  Age 15.  Student at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek

The Timeline

  • teens killed in semi truck accidentOn or about July 25, 2017 at approximately 4:52p.m., Defendant Sanjiv Phambota d/b/a SP Trucking parked an empty Wabash semi-trailer in the wrong direction with the front of the semi-trailer facing oncoming traffic on Alderwood Parkway.
  • By 10:20 PM on July 25, 2017, Defendant Spirit Transport Systems, Inc. backed up and parked one if its tractor-trailers in front of the Wabash semi-trailer.  It was parked close enough to the rear of the Wabash semi-trailer so the STS semi-trailer doors could not swing open without hitting the Wabash semi-trailer.
  • The front, kingpin side of the Wabash semi-trailer, was not marked with conspicuity tape, and other highly reflective surfaces (retroreflective), facing oncoming traffic.
  • Neither semi-trailer had activated its hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic.
  • There were no warning triangles, flares, or other devices placed by either driver to alert oncoming traffic.
  • The parked STS and Wabash semi-trailers obstructed and encroached on the use of a public highway.
  • On or about July 26, 2017, the 2006 Kia Sorento SUV with a driver and three passengers was heading northbound on Alderwood Mall Parkway.
  • 11 hours after the McKinney/Key Trucking/SP Trucking Wabash semi-trailer was parked, Landon Staley negligently collided the SUV with the unmarked front end of the parked Wabash semi-trailer
  • According to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, the crash happened around 4 a.m. in the 16900 block of Alderwood Mall Parkway.  The car hit the semi with such force that it became wedged under the trailer.
  • The proximity of the parked McKinney/Key Trucking/SP Trucking Wabash semi-trailer and the STS tractor semi-trailer increased the force of the impact to the rear passengers of the Kia Sorrento, causing the top of the vehicle to shear off.


The Law

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR 392.22) require truck drivers stopped on the side of the road to immediately turn on hazard lights; requires hazard lights to be left on till warning triangles are placed; requires warning triangles to be placed as soon as possible, but no later than 10 minutes after stopping on the shoulder.
  • The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said it is legal for trucks to park trailers in the designated parking areas along Alderwood Mall Parkway, but that the trailer was not parked in the correct direction, as the front of the trailer was facing the direction of oncoming traffic. "That is a civil park[ing infraction," the sheriff's office said.

The Lawsuit

The complaint filed in King County Superior Court alleges:

  • Wabash National Corporation which manufactured the Duraplate semi-trailer failed to add red and white reflective conspicuity tape (“conspicuity tape”) on the frontside (a.k.a. kingpin side) of the semi-trailer.  Conspicuity tape significantly reduces crashes from cars striking the face of unmarked semitrailers pointed toward oncoming traffic.  And failed to warn product sellers and/or users/consumers of its semi-trailers, including the Duraplate semi-trailer, that the semi-trailer should not be parked with the front kingpin side of the semi-trailer (the side without the DOT bumper, reflective markers, lights, conspicuity tape, and other highly reflective surfaces (retroreflective)), facing oncoming traffic.
  • Trillium, parent company of McKinney, had a duty to review the motor carrier’s background to determine if the motor carrier was safe before renting/leasing or otherwise allowing others to use its semi-trailers.
  • Wabash, Trillium, or McKinney could have inexpensively, economically, and reasonably placed DOT conspicuity tape on the front of the semi-trailer to increase its visibility and reduce the likelihood of a collision involving a passing motorist
  • Key Trucking permitted, agreed or contracted to provide SP Trucking use of the Wabash semi-trailer. 
  • Key Trucking and SP Trucking failed to exercise due care while parking the Wabash semi-trailer by, among other things, positioning the Wabash semi-trailer in a careless, negligent, and dangerous manner.
  • SP Trucking failed to train the truck driver on when and how it was safe to park on the shoulder of the roadway.
  • The Wabash semi-trailer was parked on the emergency lane recovery shoulder of 16900 Alderwood Mall Parkway, Lynnwood, Washington; was left unattended; and parked in the wrong direction without any safety equipment to warn approaching motorists. The semi-trailer was also parked unattended without the FMCSR-required warning devices having been placed on the road or shoulder.
  • An SP Trucking driver parked the semi-trailer with the kingpin side of trailer facing the wrong direction on Alderwood Mall Parkway on multiple occasions.
  • Spirit Transpiration Systems, Inc (STS) failed to exercise due care when it parked its tractor semi-trailer by dangerously close to the Wabash trailer.
  • Defendants Wabash, Trillium, and McKinney failed to warn or instruct Defendant Key Trucking of the dangers of parking the front kingpin side of the Wabash semi-trailer toward oncoming traffic.

The Parties

  • Wabash National Corporation – Manufactures the Duraplate semi-trailer.
  • Trillium Management Inc.  – California-based company operating in the automotive repair, services and parking AND utility trailer rental business.  Parent company of McKinney Vehicle Services aka McKinney Trailer Rental. 
  • McKinney Vehicle Services – Supplies trailer rentals in Texas, Arizona, and in numerous states along the West Coast.  Purchases Duraplate semi-trailers from Wabash National Corporation then rents them to trucking companies.  Rented the Wabash trailer to Key Trucking. 
  • Key Trucking, Inc. (“Key Trucking”) is an interstate common carrier corporation based in Kent, Washington.  Hires truck drivers to transport goods.  Hired Sanjiv Phambota.
  • Sanjiv Phambota d/b/a SP Trucking (“SP Trucking”) is truck driver operating an interstate common carrier sole proprietorship (contract driver).  Contracted by Key Trucking, Inc. Negligently parked an empty semi-trailer the wrong way on the side of Alderwood Parkway without proper safety precautions.
  • Spirit Transport Systems, Inc., (“STS”) is an interstate common carrier corporation organized in the state of Washington.  Negligently parked a truck too close to the illegally parked trailer.

The Complaint