Garbage hauler’s poor maintenance leads to death of 8 year old, loss of mom’s arm
CW Transport, LLC is a four-truck garbage hauling company in metro Atlanta. Though small in size, it is large in vehicle maintenance and unsafe driving violations. That bad record culminated in an incident in which the transmission parts from a CW Transport truck flew off the truck, across the median of I-20 and through the windshield of a Chevy Blazer.
That flying transmission part sliced off the arm of a young mother, Jemeka Malone, and killed her 8-year-old son, Cameron McIlwain. Ironically, the husband and father, Quantaine Malone, is himself a long-haul truck driver. This incident was featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an investigative article by Katie Leslie (who phoned me for comment Friday morning) and an article about the family by Craig Schneider.
Online records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reveal that CW Transport had vehicle maintenance violations worse than 94.6% of trucking companies in its size category. Records also show the company worse than 67.5% of its peers in terms of unsafe driving violations. Most of the individual violations seem mundane, but cumulatively they paint a picture of a company blatantly indifferent safety concerns. Among the violations were citations for operating without periodic inspections and failure to correct defects noted earlier by inspectors. As I told the newspaper reporter, this company’s safety record is awful but not the worst I have seen.
Ironically, despite its terrible record of vehicle maintenance and unsafe driving violations, CW Transport makes apparently inconsistent claims on its website, including statements about safety compliance and training, age and quality of equipment, and safety performance awards. It would be interesting to see who gave a safety performance award to a company that has vehicle maintenance violations worse than 94.6% of its peers.
The Georgia State Patrol SCRT (Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team) unit is investigating and reconstructing this incident. I expect it will be a good while before their report is released. It is undetermined whether the CW Transport driver, David Washington, will face criminal charges.
My observation in cases over the years has been that companies that contract to transport garbage from collection sites to remote landfills often operate with worn out, poorly maintained equipment and some of the least qualified truck drivers. The smell of the loads alone can result in truck drivers who can possibly work anywhere else leaving these companies.
CW Transport is owned by Gregory Wynn, who is also listed as CEO of CTC Construction LLC (formerly Wynn Builder Group, LLC) and of JLW Management, Inc. (a real estate management company administratively dissolved in 2010), etc.
Investigative reports have noted that Wynn hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Kasim Reed, gave $1,000 to the mayor’s campaign, and that CTC won numerous City of Atlanta construction and demolition contracts including contract for emergency services debris removal, while CW Transport got a piece of the action as a minority joint venture or subcontractor for City of Atlanta waste removal.
None of that proves anything related to this tragedy.What is apparent, however, is that Wynn’s companies have done fairly well in securing City of Atlanta contracts while promising a great deal more on safety concerns than has been delivered.
And now CW Transport’s poor truck maintenance has cost an 8-year-old child his life and cost his mom both her arm and her child.
Ken Shigley is immediate past president of the State Bar of Georgia, chair of the board of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and incoming secretary of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle, Highway and Premises Liability Section. He is a board member of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group and has been on the faculty of trucking litigation seminars from coast to coast. Mr. Shigley is double board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Advocacy by the American Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly National Board of Trial Advocacy), has an AV Preeminent rating in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, is listed as a “Super Lawyer” by Atlanta Magazine and “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend, and is the lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice (West, 2010-12).