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Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Truckers Keep Long-Distance Relationships Healthy

someecards.com
Article thanks to The RoadPro Family of Brands and Jim Sweeney. Links provided:
Does absence really make the heart grow fonder or are relationships between over-the-road truckers and their partners doomed to fail?
While we couldn’t find specific research into the health and longevity of trucker relationships, industry forums are full of talk about the hardships of having one member of a team be gone for weeks at a time.
There’s no doubt a trucking relationship faces special challenges: the driver is on the road, lonely, away from home and missing family events. The stay-at-home partner is also lonely and, if they share a household, saddled with all the household chores and dealing with any unexpected crises.
The stress can take a toll on marriages and relationships alike.   
Kimberly Erskine, a marketer in New Jersey, recently ended her year-long relationship with a driver. “I broke up with my trucker because I was never much of a priority and I couldn’t trust him,” she said.
Based on her experience, she offered the following tip for truckers in relationships:
“Let (your partners) know that, even though you can’t be there, they are still your priority. When you do have free time, you should want to use it to spend time calling your (partner), talking with them and letting them know that you’re thinking of them,” she said.
New York psychoanalyst Dr. Claudia Luiz said mutual resentment is often the problem.
“The hard part isn’t when the trucker is away. People can deal with missing each other. The hard part is when the trucker comes home,” she said.
The stay-at-home partner can resent a returning trucker’s disruption of household routines while the trucker can resent the partner’s demands on precious downtime, Luiz said. That can make the short time a couple does spend together hard on both of them. Couples need to recognize and address these resentments, she said.
“You have to find your comfort zone with the separation – and the together time,” Luiz said.
Our RoadPro Pro Driver Council drivers have CDLs, not Ph.D.s, but they offered their own relationship advice.
Henry Albert, owner of Albert Transport in Statesville, N.C., brings his wife, Karen, on the road with him five to 10 times a year for a week at a time. The rest of the year she handles business operations from home.
“There’s nothing like seeing each other in person,” he said, adding that when he is home the couple make certain to spend time together.
Illinois owner-operator Thomas Miller, who drives for Prime, said regular communication is the key.
“My wife and I speak several times a day. We try to keep our lines of communication the same as it would be if I was home daily,” he said. “We use basically all forms of communication. Phone calls, text messages, email, FaceTime, Facebook — you name it, we use it.”
Joanne Fatta, who hauls produce in Pennsylvania, and Maggie Riessen, who owns Missfit Trucking, a livestock hauler in Galva, Ia., said having a partner who’s a trucker helps.
“My husband hauls livestock, too,” Stone said. “We don't always get to run together, but it's always nice to call and talk with him a couple times a day. I don't like to talk all day long. It gives a chance for him to miss me and something new to talk about other than work.”
Even being a local trucker can be hard on relationships, Fatta said.           
“My experience as a woman trucker, over the past 15-plus years, is most men do not like their partner waking up earlier than they do and having to be in bed very early and working more hours than they do,” she said.
“Appreciation and respect for the difficult, stressful job w do is what our partner can do to help keep relationships strong,” she added.
Albert, who’s been a driver since 1983, said cell phones and social media mean there is no excuse for drivers not communicating regularly with partners.
“It couldn’t be easier,” he said. “And it matters – a lot.”
http://www.roadprobrands.com/

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Security guard, trucker duke it out at Sam’s Club Warehouse over drop-off conflict

overtbuzz.com

Feb, 2016  Police were called to a distribution center after a dispute between two women, one a security guard and the other a trucker, turned into a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Prior to their arrival, the women had been on the ground wrestling, hitting and pulling out each other’s hair.

The incident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at Sam’s Club Warehouse, 18650 Dix-Toledo.

Police noted the truck driver had facial lacerations and the security guard was complaining of a bump on her forehead.
The security guard, who is contracted to work at the warehouse, said the trucker, from Ohio, pulled up to her security booth to drop off a loaded semitrailer.

After checking her records, the security guard told her the cargo wasn’t scheduled to be unloaded until 9 a.m. the following day.

Although she had the wrong day, the trucker said she was just going to drop the trailer off and leave.

According to a police report, when the security guard told her it could not be left there because of the scheduling conflict, an argument ensued.

The trucker told the security guard she was going to go through the security gate and make a U-turn and leave, but the guard said that regulations prohibit anyone from doing such on the property.

The trucker said she had no intention of backing her truck up because it was unsafe.

When the trucker got back into her truck, the security guard closed the gate to prevent her from driving through.

According to the report, the trucker got out of her truck and confronted the guard.

Both said the fight was on from that point and they took each other to the ground fighting and proceeded to pull each other’s hair.

According to the security guard, the trucker threw a punch at her and she retaliated in defense by socking her in the face with a closed fist.

The trucker told police she was not sure who threw the first punch, but that the security guard hit her numerous times in the face as they fought to the ground on the concrete.

The Brownstown Township Fire Department responded to the warehouse and offered medical attention to both women, noting the security guard had a lump on her forehead and appeared to have lost some of her hair, while the trucker had facial abrasions that did not require stitches.

The security guard’s supervisor arrived and allowed the trucker to make the U-turn to leave.

Police are attempting to obtain video surveillance footage of the incident.

Both women contacted police the following day and decided not to pursue charges.

http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2016/02/22/news/doc56cb42f0dc149402683885.txt?viewmode=default

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Truckers and Wi-Fi

howtogeek.com

How to use free Wi-Fi for banking, shopping and safe browsing


Article thanks to Justin Ferris, Kim Komando and komando.com. Links provided:

Dec, 2015 It's very convenient to bank, shop and post photos and status updates online. It means you don't have to physically go to the bank, the store or travel long distances to catch up with family and friends who might be scattered around the country.

The drawback to doing these and other things online is that your information is traveling through the Internet. It isn't a straight shot between you and the site you're using, either. The data can bounce through servers around the country or even around the world.

That gives hackers a lot of opportunities to steal your information. If they can grab it in transit, they can learn your passwords, details about you they shouldn't know, or even pretend to be you to trick your bank or other secure sites.

That's especially true if you're using public Wi-Fi. Hackers on the same network have plenty of tools to snoop on what you're doing.

Aside from hackers, the government and your Internet service provider can also monitor your connection to see where you go, and, if they want, what you do. If you aren't a fan of that, and few people are, there is a way you can keep these parties out of your business.

Before we talk about that, however, let's do a quick review of the secure measure that's already in place. Any finance, medical or shopping site that's even a little security conscious is going to provide you with an encrypted connection.

The encryption scrambles your traffic so hackers can't get your passwords or other information. You can tell encryption is running on a site when the Web address in your browser starts with "https://".

Aside from the types of sites we've already mentioned, Facebook, Google and other major sites have adopted always-on encryption as well. However, not every site you encounter will, and some only provide partial encryption.

That means they might not encrypt the connection until you log in, which gives hackers a possible opening to steal your password. Or they only encrypt your login information and leave things like email messages exposed to traffic snoops.

Fortunately, more sites are moving to full-time encryption. Netflix is going to enable it over the next year, and even news sites are turning it on, with the largest one so far being The Washington Post.

Canadian networking company Sandvine estimates that by the end of this year 50% of the world's Internet traffic and 66% of North American traffic will be encrypted (you can read the report here). Mozilla, the developer of the popular Firefox browser, is even making plans to stop supporting unencrypted websites entirely.

Of course, you don't have to wait for that level of security. You can fully encrypt your connection today.

To encrypt your connection, you can use a virtual private network. In the business world, VPNs let employees working remotely create an encrypted connection with the company network so they canwork safely, as shown in this handy diagram:

Windows and Mac both have VPN features built in just for this purpose. However, for the average home user or traveler, these aren't very helpful because you need something to connect to. That's where a third-party VPN service comes in handy.

A VPN service lets you create an encrypted connection with one of its servers and you use that server to browse the Internet. The connection is encrypted through the server, so the VPN can't see your traffic either. OK, it's a bit more complicated than that behind the scenes, but that's the result.

To start, you need to choose a program or service to use. There are dozens that offer a mix of security features, privacy options, server locations and other considerations.

For the average user, it's important to make sure they have U.S.-based servers, know how much bandwidth you can use, and that they don't keep logs of your activity. Paid services will require some personal information and payment information, naturally, but you can find one that minimizes what it needs to know.

Some services will accept prepaid cards and alternative payments that are more difficult to trace back to you. However, even if you give the service your information, as long as it doesn't keep logs of what you do with the service then it doesn't matter so much.

For PCs, Macs and Android smartphones and tablets, CyberGhost is a popular free option that has strong encryption, unlimited bandwidth and doesn't store logs. If you go for a paid plan, there's an Apple app as well, plus you get access to more servers around the world.

Hotspot Shield VPN is a good free app for Apple and Android gadgets that has more than 300 million downloads. You get to choose your location, and it also blocks viruses and phishing attempts before they get to your gadget. There's also Windows and Mac versions, however the free software has ads.

Once you've installed your VPN of choice, fire it up and let it establish a connection. You can then browse the Internet like you always do. The traffic will flow to your computer, tablet or smartphone through the VPN's server and over the encrypted connection.

This means any unencrypted sites you visit will be safe from prying eyes and encrypted sites will basically have double encryption. As a side bonus, your Internet service provider will no longer be able to see what sites you're visiting. It will only see your connection to the VPN.

Note: If you're searching for VPNs, you'll see VPN services and "proxy" services. A proxy service can disguise your computer's identity, but it doesn't encrypt your connection. Always go with a VPN for security.

The sites you're visiting also won't know where you're coming from. They'll just see the connection from the VPN. That means the government will have a harder time tracking what you're doing as well.Disclaimer: While the government will have a harder time seeing your activity, it isn't impossible to find out. So, keep what you're doing legal.

We strongly recommend using a VPN when you're on public Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi makes it easy for hackers on the same network to snoop on what you're doing. The VPN encryption should stop them.

Even then, you shouldn't do anything too sensitive on public Wi-Fi, like online banking. Save that for home, or use a cellular connection on the go.

Using a VPN is a good way to increase your security, but it does have a cost. While most VPN services claim otherwise, it can slow down your connection.

That's because your traffic is making more stops between you and the site you're using. If you find that your browsing is sluggish, you can turn off the VPN while using sites that aren't critical.

You could run into obstacles if your VPN hooks you up with a server in another country. Some things, like streaming online video, are often region locked. So if you find YouTube, Netflix or another site refusing to play video because it says you aren't in the U.S., you'll need to adjust your VPN settings or find one with more U.S.-based servers.

Similarly, some sites that you use regularly might say they don't recognize you. You might need to go through security procedures to prove you are who you say you are before you can log in.

While the VPN will hide your surfing from your ISP and the sites you're visiting, your computer, smartphone or tablet are still recording your browsing history. If you don't want that recorded, you'll need to browse in private or incognito mode. Learn how to activate that in your browser.

A VPN is just about the connection between you and a website. If you choose to store personal information on a website, it can still be lost in a data breach. So, as always, be careful what sites you choose to trust with your information.

While a VPN encrypts your connection between you and the VPN server, the connection between the VPN server and the site you're visiting isn't necessarily going to be secure. While the odds of a hacker breaking in at that point are minimal, it's still possible.

Be sure to check your browser's address bar to make sure you see the "https://" before sending any sensitive information to a website. If a site doesn't offer an encrypted connection for sensitive information, then you probably don't want to be using it, VPN or not.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Driverless Cars and Floaty Chairs

autoevolution.com

As driverless cars win human rights, we risk losing our innate human fight

A self-driving computer algorithm may be the equivalent of a human driver as far as the NHTSA is concerned, but now is not the time to give up the driver's seat.


Article thanks to pcworld.com and Jon Phillips, Editor-in-Chief. Links provided:

Feb 11, 2016 The computer algorithms that pilot self-driving cars may soon be considered the functional equivalents of human drivers. That’s the early opinion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—and so begins our slow-burn acquiescence in the battle of man versus machine.
I don’t have a problem with the basic concept of a computer-driven vehicle that transports human passengers. I’ll step inside your monorail without protest. I’ll even jump inside your robot-driven race car on a closed-circuit track. But when self-driving cars start making us dumber, and less alert, and less involved with transportation in a tactile, human way, then I have to sound the alarm.
Disclosure: I’m a hardcore driving enthusiast. Any movement in the automotive industry that threatens to take away my steering wheel and replace it with an in-flight entertainment display gives me cause for concern. And after experiencing just how much difficulty a car has with autonomous parking—simple perpendicular parking—I have new concerns about autonomous driving on a mass, infrastructural scale.
But my apprehension really coalesced last week, morphing from cautious observation to free-flowing dread-think. It all started with a reader’s tweet:
@BradChacos @pcworld aren't these smart cars etc just leading us to the "Floaty Chairs" ?
Floaty chairs? It was an opaque reference until one of our writers suggested Virgilio Corrado was making a connection between driverless cars and the high-tech hover vehicles from the movie Wall-E.
I want you to take this in. What you see below is a floaty chair. It’s sort of like a cross between a first-class airline seat, a self-driving Google Car, and those airport sleeping pods where you can cocoon yourself in quiet remove from the meddling masses.
So that’s the floaty chair. It’s currently just a whimsical flight of Pixar fancy, but if you squint your eyes and think bad thoughts, it becomes something much more troubling: the natural evolutionary extension of the driverless car. Thanks to Google, Tesla, and all the other manufacturers investing in a driverless tech, we might be looking at a dystopian future as disengaged blimp people who’ve lost all ambulatory function.
Now, obviously, the core promise of autonomous driving has huge upsides. First, if the entire commuting population traveled the roads in driverless cars, we’d probably all be safer. If nothing else, the term “drunk driving” would become an anachronism.
Second, most people don’t even want to drive. They’d rather spend their time doing something much less stressful, and I get that. Why pay attention to lane markers and stop signs when you could be sitting in a passenger seat, answering BuzzFeed quizzes? For many people, autonomous driving would be the ultimate life hack. Its appeal cannot be underestimated.
But, still, indulge me. Whether they’re full-on floaty chairs or something a bit less morbid, driverless cars raise three red flags.

1: The slow, agonizing death of high-performance street cars

Driverless cars pose an existential threat to high-performance car culture as we know it. It may take 20 or even 30 years, but when the big auto manufacturers have invested all their money and intellectual capital in the design of floaty chairs, there won’t be any motivation to create human-driven, high-performance vehicles.
There won’t be a 2036 version of the Ford GT350R. There won’t be a 2046 version of the BMW M2. And there definitely won’t be a 2056 version of the Alfa Romeo 4C, a car that can barely justify itself in 2016. These cars won’t be designed and manufactured, because (a) too few people will know how to drive them, and (b) there won’t be any business case to keep iterating on an obsolete format. The world’s driving infrastructures—our roadways, our traffic laws, our insurance rates, our very philosophical positions on driving—will have left car culture as we know it behind.
Sure, there will still be cars designed for human pilots. Small, boutique manufacturers like RadicalKTM, and Ariel can probably withstand the tidal forces of history, and perhaps even thrive. They’ll be making non-street-legal (and very, very expensive) cars for track days and club racing. We might even find the Fords and BMWs making hyper-expensive track day specials—and they won’t need to be cheap, because the concept of an affordable halo car will have disappeared.
But car enthusiasm and car culture starts with relatively affordable high-performance street cars, not race cars. And in our floaty chair future, mainstream motor vehicles will be neither fast, nor tunable, nor fun to drive on a race track (if “drivable” in the 20th Century sense at all).

2: The utter fallibility of digital tech

Nothing about my experience with digital technology tells me that driverless cars will be reliable or even as safe as futurists would have us believe. When’s the last time your Internet provider suffered a mass network outage? When’s the last time hackers compromised a consumer-facing security network on a grand, epic scale? When’s the last time your phone’s mapping app pointed you in the wrong direction?
Computers work wonderfully... until they don’t work at all. In our driverless car future, I see intermittent system failures, with in-car hardware crashing as often as our phones, tablets, and PCs. I see passengers paralyzed in the middle of the road with no backup system for getting home. Because, remember: Even if their steering wheels and gas pedals actually work, tomorrow’s passenger won’t know how to actually drive.
One-off system crashes are a best-case scenario. Imagine instead a mass platform attack on the floaty chair network. I see thousands upon thousands of people, stuck in their vehicles. Their phones will run out of battery power, they’ll finish their last Cheez-Its, and they’ll just sit there, helpless and defeated, on the street.

3: The dulling of our sharpest senses

In the Wall-E dystopia, floaty chairs don’t just make us fat and lazy. They also make us complacent and mentally thick. And this is what concerns me most about driverless cars: humankind’s voluntary capitulation to the easy way out. Now, I’m going to get metaphorical here, so follow me.
The open road is the last environment where we’re forced to stay alert, watch our backs, and practice mission-critical human survival. Even 200 years ago, ground travel forced us to worry about animal attacks, finding fresh water, and protecting ourselves from exposure. (Please see The Revenant. It’s great.) But, today? If we want to keep our survival skills sharp, we get behind the wheel of a car.
Driving forces us make a new life-or-death judgement call every few seconds. It leashes our brains to a prehistoric past. If I don’t hit my brakes in time, I die. And if I don’t keep within my lane markers, you die. To this extent, driving also teaches us how to get along. Every four-way stop is a social negotiation. I see you, you see me, we cannot avoid each other, and we’re gonna work this out.
But driverless cars? And floaty chairs? They basically tell us, no, just keep sipping on your corn syrup macchiato. We’ll wake you when you’ve reached your destination.

Proceed carefully, NHTSA

At the end of the day, I really can’t defend my right to drive a performance car. In reckless hands, they do cause accidents, and they’re not good for the environment. But let us at least agree that performance cars are a very special kind of art—a perfect marriage of design and engineering—and losing them forever would be as great a loss as the death of architecture, or mechanical watches, or any other synthesis of form and function that tells us more about the human spirit.
As for the NHTSA? Well, it does very important work, and of course it must update its regulations to safely manage traffic in a driverless car future. But its movement to upgrade artificial driving intelligence to people status only underscores just how much we have to lose on a raw, human, soulful level when we hand over our car keys for the very last time.
I probably won’t even be alive by the time our driving infrastructures have fully conformed to the floaty chair future. But you might be. And if you care about how humans fit into an increasingly machine-controlled world, you’ll pay close attention to every decision that subjugates man to machine. Even two weeks ago, I would have laughed at Elon Musk’s OpenAI initiative. But, today, following NHTSA’s response to Google, I’m not so sure.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vibration is bad for drivers, studies show

Bose Ride
Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and Bose Ride. Links provided:

Any trucker who’s steered a rig down a rough road knows you can feel the same bump twice — once when you hit it and again the next morning when you get out of bed.
Aches and pains from being bounced around in the cab 10 to 11 hours a day have been as much a part of trucking as heartburn from truck stop food, but evidence is growing that the vibration truckers experience behind the wheel can cause drivers pain and might even affect their performance.
Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is the term researchers use for the motion caused by a truck traveling over a rough surface, vibration transmitted up from the road through the seat to the driver. It can cause sore lower backs as well as pain in the neck, arms and legs. If the pain is bad enough, it can limit or cut short a driver’s career.  
A sore back and legs have long been considered occupational hazards of driving a truck, but new research indicates WBV can also hurt drivers’ performance behind the wheel. A definitive large-sample, long-range study has not been completed, but studies done with limited samples indicate that vibration is a problem for truck drivers.
A study presented at the 2014 American Conference on Human Vibration examined how WBV affected drivers’ performance on tests after exposure. In a lab, eight truckers were exposed for two hours apiece to two levels of WBV, one of the type experienced in a passive suspension seat and the other at the level experienced in the Bose Ride® active suspension seating system, which uses sensors and electromagnetic motors to greatly reduce WBV.
Afterward, the subjects performed computer-based tests that measured their reaction time to stimuli. Compared to those in the active-suspension seat, drivers using the passive-suspension seat had slower response times and more lapses per trial.
“Therefore,” the limited study concluded, “it appears WBV exposures and the magnitude of the WBV exposures may adversely affect the vigilance of truck drivers and potentially contribute to cognitive fatigue.”
In addition to slowing reaction time, WBV could make drivers tired and sleepy. A 2015 RAND Corp. review of 24 studies examining WBV and fatigue and sleepiness found that 18 of the studies reported “a significant association” between WBV and driver fatigue and sleepiness, while the others found no relationship.
The review concluded that modeling suggests reducing WBV among truck drivers “may reduce fatigue and ultimately reduce the public-health burden and societal costs of trucking accidents.” The report, which was commissioned by Bose and insurance giant AIG, concludes that further study is needed to establish a causal relationship.
Looking for a way to reduce WBV-related pain, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries commissioned a study to investigate whether active suspension seats could reduce WBV and back pain.
The double-blind, randomized field study compared the Bose Ride system and the industry standard air-ride seat. Measurements showed that truck drivers who used Bose Ride experienced less WBV than those with air-ride seats. After three months, the Bose Ride group reported a 30 percent reduction in lower back pain, compared to a 10 percent reduction with those who received new air-ride seats and a 2 percent increase with those who kept their existing air-ride seats.
A limited 2015 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that seats with active suspension systems, like the Bose Ride system, transmit significantly less vibration than do standard air-suspension seats.  

A number of carriers are retrofitting their fleets with Bose Ride systems for the benefit of their drivers. R+L Carriers of Wilmington, Ohio, has installed Bose Ride systems in the majority of its 4,000-truck fleet.


“The feedback has been great,” said R+L CEO Roby Roberts. “We hear that people feel better at the end of each workday. Their body feels better with less fatigue and they feel they can do more.”


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Deer Attacks Man in Draper, Utah Backyard

youtube.com
Story thanks to Ben Lockhart and ksl.com. Links provided:
2/8/2016 - DRAPER — A mule deer attacked a Draper man in his backyard Monday, causing "significant wounds," to the man, as well as injuries to the family dog.
The attack, which occurred around 8 a.m. in the SunCrest subdivision in the southeast area of the city, resulted in officers "putting the deer down" after subduing the animal in a struggle, according to a statement issued by the city of Draper.
The injured man's daughter called police to say the deer had hurt the family dog and "was engaged" with her father, city officials said.
"When Animal Services supervisor Dennis Wilson arrived on scene, he found the man lying on the ground with the deer pushing its antlers down into him," the release states. "Officer Wilson grabbed the deer and pulled the antlers away from the man. The man was able to get up and walk back to the house."
Wilson struggled with the deer and gained control, taking the animal to the ground, according to police. Two patrol officers responded to the scene as backup. Police eventually shot and killed the deer, according to city spokeswoman Maridene Alexander.
"If not for the actions of officer Wilson, there could have been far more serious injuries," she said in the statement.
The man's injuries were considered significant, but not life-threatening. His dog suffered a puncture wound.
Draper officials called the ordeal "a very isolated" incident. "It is very rare for a deer to attack a person," the statement said.
Police believe it's likely the deer was trapped in the yard after jumping a fence to get in. The deer was also injured while trying to get out of the yard and may have been startled by the dog, which could have contributed to the animal's behavior.
Draper residents who encounter deer or other wild animals on their property are asked to call the city's animal control officers at 801-840-4***.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Feds not liable for truck damaged during botched drug sting

fleetowner.com
Article thanks to Larry Kahaner and fleetowner.com. Links provided:

Truck used without owner's knowledge or consent
The Truck Owner's Case Against the Government
Craig Patty's claim seems simple enough. Federal agents used his truck for a government operation without his consent, it was damaged, and Patty wants to be paid for the damages both financial and emotional.
He took his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division where the judge ruled last year that Patty didn't deserve a penny. Although, the judge did not dispute his claim of the facts – all of what Patty alleged about his losses were true – District Judge Lee Rosenthal said that the government was within its rights to deny Patty's claim for restitution because the agents acted within their legal authority to make judgment calls when on the job. One of their calls was to use Patty's  truck without permission.
Patty's co-counsel, Fred Shepherd of the Vickery Law Firm, said of the ruling: "The judge's analysis is that the law enforcement officers under the law are afforded certain flexibility when they have to make judgment calls with regard to undercover operations or police operations. She believed that there was some discretion on the part of the undercover officer who was running the agent. Because she thought that there was discretion involved and his judgment was not to get Patty’s permission to use the truck she thought that exclusionary provision in the law resulted in the government prevailing in the case as a matter of law, not on the facts."
He adds: "This type of ruling, in our judgment, ignores the Constitution, ignores the privacy rights of individuals who are just trying to make a living, an honest living… Even if the district judge was right [applying the law], the law needs to change because this completely tramples what we believe the Constitution protects."
The attorney was also dismayed that the judge sealed many of the documents in the case. "We think that these types of cases should absolutely, positively not be litigated in secrecy, that the public has a right to know what their government is doing. The government is the one that moved to seal all the proceedings, all the hearings, all the filings for the most part."
Patty believes his damages include $133,532.10 in economic compensation to his truck and business as well as $1,483,532.10 million in personal damages. "Remember," said Shepherd, "he had two trucks at the time. He lost half of his business." Adds Patty: "I had worked in the pharmaceutical business for 16 years and had a 401-K that I was now having to pull out to make ends meet because my two-truck business was now a one-truck business."
Patty has feared for his life since the sting. "Helicopters from the local TV station flew over the scene and showed the license plate of my truck. That comes back to my address for all of the internet to see." He is concerned that members of the drug cartel that smuggled the contraband across the border might think he's part of the government operation and retaliate.
"Patty has suffered, and the medical records support this," Shepherd says. "He started having heart palpitations, anxiety attacks. He was terrified for his family and so he did have personal injury damages associated with being worried as hell that these guys were going to come after him. They killed his driver… It’s logical to think that he, his kids or wife may be next and. He'll tell you about how they lined up all their guns in their living room, because they were scared that they would have to defend themselves."
On February 1, Patty's case goes to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Patty's lead attorney Andy Vickery will have 15 minutes to present his case and another five minutes for rebuttal.
If Patty loses his case in the Appeal court, the only possible legal step is the Supreme Court. Would they take it to the nation's high court? "We haven’t made any decision on that and some of it would be based on what the Fifth Circuit says and what it holds," says Shepherd.

The Set Up

Steven Craig Patty formed his small trucking company "Craig Thomas Expeditors" in July, 2011. He purchased two Kenworth T600 trucks and contracted two drivers. One of them was Lawrence Chapa. Patty didn't know that Chapa had a criminal record including resisting arrest, possession of cocaine and assault. According to Houston police, the 53-year old Chapa had a hot temper; he had been arrested for grabbing a tire from a Goodyear store's lobby display and throwing it at a mechanic because he believed they were overcharging him. He also had a history of drug use. According to journalist Leif Reigstad, who wrote about the sting operation and resulting trials for the Houston PostChapa's nickname was "Senor Smoke."
None of this showed up in searches when Patty performed his due diligence before hiring Chapa as a contract driver. And it wouldn't. His CDL record would be clean if Chapa was a confidential informant for the DEA. "He had driven for me for five weeks," says the Houston-based Patty. "I had no idea about his background."
The DEA will not confirm whether or not Chapa was one of their confidential informants, but court documents verify that this was the case.
Chapa was driving back from California and called Patty from New Mexico. He was having problems with his truck. He said that a buddy of his in Houston had the needed part and he would drive there and get the repairs taken care of during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Patty okayed the idea. "Chapa told me: 'If you’ll just let me take this truck to Houston, I can have it repaired during the holiday and we won’t accrue any downtime. I’ll bring it back Friday after the holiday.' And I said, 'Well, okay, that sounds like a good plan.' And so I agreed to that. Well that’s not what he did."
Instead, days later Patty received a phone call from a colleague who told him that his driver was shot dead while carrying a load of marijuana. Patty was shocked. As far as he knew, the truck was being repaired in a Houston shop.
Then the calls from law enforcement came. Investigators asked if he knew anything about his truck hauling illegal drugs. Then the lies followed, Patty said. "They said, 'the truck was taken into Mexico, and it was loaded there. Then they crossed back over the Rio Grande.' And I just let them keep talking for a while. I said: ' Look, buddy, I got a tracker in that truck. I know the longitude, latitude, I know what gear it was in and when it started and stopped. I know everything about it. And I said, 'That truck never went to Mexico.' It got real quiet on the phone; it pissed him off. Then they started interrogating me like I was a part it when they knew full well it was their own operation."

A Simple Plan

Court records state that on November 21, 2011, DEA Task Force Officer Fernando Villasana, a Houston Police officer who was federally deputized called DEA agent Keith Jones to tell him that he was organizing a sting involving a confidential informant driver (Chapa) who was asked by someone in the Zeta drug cartel in Mexico to transport 1,800 pounds of marijuana from Rio Grande City, Texas to Houston. Villasana said that the driver had made up a story about having to get repairs done on the truck and that the owner knew nothing about the drug cargo.
The DEA devised a plan to keep the truck under surveillance by undercover vehicles and aircraft until the narcotics delivery took place. At that point, law enforcement would converge and arrest the buyers who they suspected were associated with the Zeta drug cartel. [It is still not confirmed if they were associated with the cartel or not.]
Chapa stayed at a Holiday Inn near the Mexican border where he left the keys in the cab so someone could drive it elsewhere to be loaded during the night. The next day, Chapa drove the truck north to Houston loaded not with 1,800 pounds of pot but less than 300 pounds. He was told by his contact that only part of the shipment made it through the border, but that he should make the run anyway and take the truck to the designated off-loading location. Chapa told his law enforcement handlers about the change, and they decided to continue with the sting operation anyway despite the load being much less than they had expected.
They also had arranged for Chapa's truck to pass through the Falfurrias, Texas  checkpoint without hindrance.

"A Quarter Mile Stretch Of Mayhem"

Chapa was having trouble finding the drop-off point because he was receiving changing directions from a man named Martin Hernandez who Chapa believed was working for a man only known as 'Mauro,' who put the deal together. Chapa may have gotten lost and was having a difficult time staying on the road talking to Hernandez while also trying to keep his handlers informed of his location. Villasana's team had trouble keeping up with Chapa, too, as his truck had to change lanes quickly at one point so he could take an exit toward Hollister Street in northwest Houston.
When Chapa's truck arrived at the designated location, he waited, knowing that he was being watched and protected by undercover officers in vehicles and hiding behind bushes and fences. He didn't know that he was also being observed by heavily- armed men arriving in three SUVs who were planning to rip him off.
According to trial records, one of the men, Fernando Tavera, jumped on the cab's step and held a gun to Chapa. He tells Chapa that he and his crew just want the cargo and that they won't hurt him if he complies. Chapa pleads for his life and, terrified, snugs into the sleeper berth to hide. While two more men reach the cab, Tavera's gun goes off accidentally. Nobody is hit as the bullet plunges into the roof of the cab.
Police hear the shot and swarm for the truck. What happens next is unclear as accounts vary. Crew member Ricardo Ramirez is now driving the truck hoping to escape but the road is a dead end and the truck is too large for a U-Turn. Tavera, trying to flee the frenzy runs and is hit by one of the DEA agent's car. He bounces off and is run over by another agent's vehicle. He is taken alive and handcuffed on the ground. Meanwhile, Ramirez jumps out and the truck is rolling slowly with no one in control. It stops when it hits a concrete wall.
Patty later learns: "Down the road a little way a school bus is coming around the corner and a Harris County Sheriff slammed into that school bus. It was [empty of children],  thank God. But you have about a quarter mile stretch of mayhem. It's a Wild West shootout, and my driver is dead in the back of my truck." Chapa was shot ten times.
During the confusion, a Harris Country Sheriff's deputy was shot in the leg by a member of the DEA task force. The injury was not life threatening.
One remaining question is how did the robbers know about the drug shipment?  
During the series of trials, it came to light that the robbers allegedly belonged to a group known as the "DeLuna crew" headed by Eric DeLuna. It is alleged that Hernandez told him about the cargo and DeLuna put together a group to rip off the truck.
Tavera, the man who threatened Chapa and was hit by multiple police vehicles, received a 35-year sentence for attempted armed robbery; Ricardo Ramirez, who shot at Chapa pled guilty to murder and received a 30-year sentence; Alfred Gomez, who also was charged with Chapa's murder, was found not guilty. The ringleader, Eric DeLuna, pled guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to 30 years. The case against Hernandez was dismissed for lack of evidence. Mauro, the alleged drug broker, is at large.

The Truck Owner's Case Against the Government

Craig Patty's claim seems simple enough. Federal agents used his truck for a government operation without his consent, it was damaged, and Patty wants to be paid for the damages both financial and emotional.
He took his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division where the judge ruled last year that Patty didn't deserve a penny. Although, the judge did not dispute his claim of the facts – all of what Patty alleged about his losses were true – District Judge Lee Rosenthal said that the government was within its rights to deny Patty's claim for restitution because the agents acted within their legal authority to make judgment calls when on the job. One of their calls was to use Patty's  truck without permission.
Patty's co-counsel, Fred Shepherd of the Vickery Law Firm, said of the ruling: "The judge's analysis is that the law enforcement officers under the law are afforded certain flexibility when they have to make judgment calls with regard to undercover operations or police operations. She believed that there was some discretion on the part of the undercover officer who was running the agent. Because she thought that there was discretion involved and his judgment was not to get Patty’s permission to use the truck she thought that exclusionary provision in the law resulted in the government prevailing in the case as a matter of law, not on the facts."
He adds: "This type of ruling, in our judgment, ignores the Constitution, ignores the privacy rights of individuals who are just trying to make a living, an honest living… Even if the district judge was right [applying the law], the law needs to change because this completely tramples what we believe the Constitution protects."
The attorney was also dismayed that the judge sealed many of the documents in the case. "We think that these types of cases should absolutely, positively not be litigated in secrecy, that the public has a right to know what their government is doing. The government is the one that moved to seal all the proceedings, all the hearings, all the filings for the most part."
Patty believes his damages include $133,532.10 in economic compensation to his truck and business as well as $1,483,532.10 million in personal damages. "Remember," said Shepherd, "he had two trucks at the time. He lost half of his business." Adds Patty: "I had worked in the pharmaceutical business for 16 years and had a 401-K that I was now having to pull out to make ends meet because my two-truck business was now a one-truck business."
Patty has feared for his life since the sting. "Helicopters from the local TV station flew over the scene and showed the license plate of my truck. That comes back to my address for all of the internet to see." He is concerned that members of the drug cartel that smuggled the contraband across the border might think he's part of the government operation and retaliate.
"Patty has suffered, and the medical records support this," Shepherd says. "He started having heart palpitations, anxiety attacks. He was terrified for his family and so he did have personal injury damages associated with being worried as hell that these guys were going to come after him. They killed his driver… It’s logical to think that he, his kids or wife may be next and. He'll tell you about how they lined up all their guns in their living room, because they were scared that they would have to defend themselves."
On February 1, Patty's case goes to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Patty's lead attorney Andy Vickery will have 15 minutes to present his case and another five minutes for rebuttal.
If Patty loses his case in the Appeal court, the only possible legal step is the Supreme Court. Would they take it to the nation's high court? "We haven’t made any decision on that and some of it would be based on what the Fifth Circuit says and what it holds," says Shepherd.
http://fleetowner.com/driver-management-resource-center/feds-not-liable-truck-damaged-during-botched-drug-sting?page=5