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Mack To Appeal $50 Million Verdict

April 18, 2000

GROVE HILL, Ala. (AP) _ Attorneys for Mack Truck Inc. say they will appeal a $50 million wrongful death verdict against the Pennsylvania-based truck maker.

``The company certainly regrets the loss of life in the case but it’s confident in the quality of its product,″ attorney Edward G. Bowron, who represents Mack, said Monday.

Last week, a Clarke County Circuit Court jury found that Mack, based in Allentown, Pa., had not installed a device that could have prevented a fire that killed log truck driver Tonnie Witherspoon, 33, of Morvin.

Witherspoon was trapped inside his burning cab after his rig jack-knifed.

Attorneys for Witherspoon’s mother, Mary Witherspoon, asked for $25 million in punitive damages but the jury doubled that amount after deliberating for less than an hour.

Mary Witherspoon’s attorneys, Robert T. Cunningham Jr. of Mobile and Gaines McCorquodale of Jackson, argued that the company could have installed an inertia switch, a device that would have sensed an accident and interrupted the truck’s power system.

Bowron would not say whether the company has since installed the switch in its trucks but said such installation is not standard in the truck manufacturing industry.

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