A judge has dismissed a $6 million lawsuit against the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel for the death of a trucker whose rig went over the side four years ago.
The lawsuit against the CBBT claimed Joseph Chen should not have been allowed to cross the span at the time he did because the winds were too strong.
Chen, 47, was an experienced trucker from North Carolina returning from his regular delivery run for a seafood company. He died shortly after his 18-wheeler went through the railing near mile marker 15 on Feb. 9, 2017.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of his widow, said the CBBT violated its wind restrictions policy by letting Chen cross with a nearly empty trailer while gusts as high as 50 mph were being clocked on the 17.6-mile span.
The court found (1) the winds were a “proximate cause” of the accident, (2) there was no evidence to support defense claims that Joseph Chen’s behavior contributed to the accident, (3) bridge-tunnel personnel had correctly applied the wind policy, and (4) that sovereign immunity applies to the CBBT, making the Bridge and Tunnel District immune from the liability suit.
The CBBT’s wind restrictions policy consists of a six-level system that applies to certain types of traffic as winds escalate. Tractor-trailers like Chen’s — empty or lightly loaded and easier to blow over — are forbidden when winds exceed Level 1, which officially tops out at 46 mph.
But according to CBBT logs, a wind gauge near the scene of Chen’s accident detected a 50-mph gust at 12:21 pm, just as he lost control of his rig.