judge's gavel

Two lawsuits have been filed against Ferguson Enterprises and its truck driver, who was driving a Ferguson truck when it ran into and killed two S.C. Department of Transportation employees, who were working just outside of Conway.

S.C. Senator and Conway attorney Luke Rankin filed one of the lawsuits on behalf of Scott Sibbick, personal representative of David J. Sibbick, and Conway attorney Morgan Martin filed the other lawsuit on behalf of Stephanie Morgan, personal representative for Cecil A. Morgan.

Both lawsuits are claiming wrongful death and negligence saying the SCDOT workers were performing routine roadwork on July 25, 2019, at about 2:20 p.m. on U.S. 501 just outside of Conway wearing hard hats and reflective vests. The lawsuits also say the men were working from an SCDOT dump truck that was stopped and had all of its appropriate flashing and signal lights activated.

Two vehicles were stopped behind the SCDOT dump truck when James Tyrone Williams approached them driving faster than 50 mph as he passed the warning signs for reduced speed due to the road construction and plowed into the two stopped vehicles, according to the lawsuits.

One of the stopped cars was forced to the right side of the road before hitting a minivan and forcing it to the left side of the road. The truck then “plowed into and ran over” Sibbick and Morgan. The Ferguson truck ran off the road and landed in the woods before it stopped.

In addition to these two deaths, the lawsuits say six others were seriously injured.

The lawsuits say Williams negligently disregarded the safety of others, failed to operate his vehicle safely and reasonably, was traveling too fast for conditions, not paying proper attention and failed to properly apply his brakes (if he had any) and more.

The lawsuits also say Ferguson shares the fault because it did not properly hire and train its operators; didn’t ensure that its employees followed proper policies and procedures to protect innocent citizens, including the decedents; failed to complete a pre-trip inspection that revealed non-functioning brakes; put a truck with inoperable brakes into service likely to kill or hurt someone; allowed Williams to drive when he was not medically qualified to drive due to “severe obesity, hypertension and/or obstructive sleep apnea.”

They also claim that Ferguson Enterprises, LLC or Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. “required or permitted” Williams to drive when he was “likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness or any other cause such as severe obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and/or hypertension as to make it unsafe for Defendant Williams to begin or continue to operate the Commercial Motor Vehicle. Upon information and belief these medical conditions resulting in impaired alertness were known to Defendant Williams and Defendants Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. and/or Ferguson Enterprises, LLC for an extended period of weeks and months prior to the collision.”

The personal representatives, the lawsuit says, have lost income; suffered mental shock, wounded feelings, grief and sorrow knowing that the decedents suffered traumatic and horrific deaths; and lost companionship and love.

The lawsuits are asking for the costs of the lawsuits, plus actual and punitive damages.

In an email, a spokesperson for Ferguson said, “Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic accident. However, we cannot further comment on ongoing litigation.”  

The S.C. Department of Transportation also said it cannot comment due to the litigation.

Ferguson’s website says the company, out of Newport News, Va., is the largest United States distributor of plumbing supplies, PVF, waterworks, fire and fabrication products and a major distributor of HVAC equipment and industrial products.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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