NORFOLK, Va.- The Virginia Pilot reports that a trial involving a widow’s lawsuit filed over the death of her husband who was killed when his tractor-trailer plunged over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel began in Northampton County.
The Virginian-Pilot reported in January that the lawsuit filed by Billie Jo Chen against the CBBT says the bridge-tunnel’s own wind and gauge policy should have prohibited Joseph Chen from crossing the bridge in 2017.
Billie Jo Chen is suing for $6 million. The CBBT is claiming sovereign immunity, which typically protects governmental entities from negligence lawsuits. A CBBT police investigation concluded Joseph Chen was responsible for the accident.
Joseph Chen, 47, was an experienced driver delivering seafood for a company based near Greenville, North Carolina. By the time his rig reached northern entrance, a powerful storm blew into the mouth of the bay. Such conditions activate the CBBT’s six-level system of traffic restrictions, which impact certain types of vehicles as wind speed increases. Tractor-trailers which are empty are stopped from crossing if gauges along the 17.6-mile (28.3-kilometer) span are detecting gusts higher than 46 mph.
Attorneys representing Chen say they’d originally hoped to have a jury hear the case but opted for a bench trial in the face of pandemic-related backlogs. A verdict isn’t expected for several weeks.