Wrongful death lawsuit filed against trucker not facing charges

October 31, 2019

Tyson Fisher

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Parents of two children killed in a truck-involved crash are suing  trucking company Pan-O-Gold Baking Company for millions dollars despite the company already cleared of wrongdoing.

In September, Trista Curry filed a lawsuit against St. Cloud, Minn.-based Pan-O-Gold and one of its drivers, Michael Soyring, in a Cass County, N.D., district court. The lawsuit accuses the trucking company and driver of negligence for a crash that killed two children and injured another child.

However, the Grand Forks State’s Attorney Office has already investigated the case and found neither party responsible. In August 2018, the state’s attorney office declined criminal charges against Curry or Soyring.

Fatal crash during inclement weather

In March 2018, Curry was driving her passenger vehicle with the three children on Interstate 29 northbound near Reynolds, N.D. Pan-O-Gold trucker Soyring was also driving northbound on the same stretch of highway.

As a result of inclement weather and slick road conditions, Curry lost control of her car. The vehicle began to veer right toward a ditch.

According to the lawsuit, Soyring “failed to exercise extreme caution by driving too fast for the weather conditions.” The complaint also accuses Soyring of failing to manage “a reasonable following distance.” As a result of the accusations, Soyring caused the crash involving Curry.

Two children, ages 9 and 1, were killed. Curry’s 3-year-old daughter was injured.

State’s Attorney investigation

Following the crash, the Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Office launched an investigation. In August 2018, the office announced that criminal charges will not be filed against either party.

According to a press release, the investigation concluded that Pan-O-Gold driver Soyring was driving in a reasonable manner. Soyring considered the conditions at the time while driving. Investigators found no evidence of speeding or any other traffic violations, including distracted driving or equipment issues.

At the same time, the investigation concluded that Curry had properly seated and restrained all three children. No evidence of distracted driving was found on her part either.

However, investigators did find that Curry’s rear tires were considerably worn. The State’s Attorney Office did not indicate whether tire conditions were a factor in the crash.

With evidence showing proper driving on both ends, the state could not justify filing criminal charges against Curry or Soyring. The only clear determination was that the weather conditions had deteriorated greatly.

Lawsuit filed against Pan-O-Gold

Despite the State’s Attorney’s conclusion, Curry filed a civil lawsuit against Pan-O-Gold and Soyring for the fatal crash. Accusations include two counts of negligence and one count of vicarious liability.

The first count of negligence is against Soyring. The lawsuit lists more than 30 points of negligence, including failing to perform trip inspections, operate vehicle “with due regard for the safety of the motoring public,” follow pavement markers and driver without distraction.

Pan-O-Gold is accused of the other count of negligence. In addition to failing to properly train Soyring, the lawsuit claims Pan-O-Gold “should have known of the adverse weather conditions occurring at the time of the crash and, as such, should have directed Soyring off of the highway and onto a different route or to a place of safety.”

Curry is seeking damages in excess of $10 million. Attorneys for either party could not be reached for comment.

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.