ELKHART — CWRV Transport is closing for good on Nov. 1 in the wake of a costly jury decision.
The news was first reported by Freight Broker Live and confirmed Thursday by CWRV's former president, Dave Miller.
With about 540 drivers, CWRV Transport is one of the nation's largest RV transportation companies, according to RVBusiness Magazine. The drivers are hired as independent contractors and deliver to Camping World.
The shutdown follows a jury verdict forcing CWRV to pay $26.6 million to the children of a couple killed when a CWRV driver fell asleep while driving back from an RV delivery in June 2017, according to the Denver Post. The jury found that the driver was an agent of CWRV. The verdict was reached last month.
The driver, Mark Bollinger, pleaded guilty in 2018 to two charges of careless driving resulting in death and one charge of careless driving resulting in injury. He was fined and given a three-year suspended jail sentence, pending completion of two years of probation and 208 hours of community service, according to the Post.
Miller, who was Elkhart mayor from 2000 to 2007 and is now the Republican candidate for the same office, ran CWRV from its founding in 2013 to March 2017, he said. He said the fatal crash and the eventual compensation was significant in forcing the company to close. The 2017 crash happened after Miller left CWRV, he said.
"They had to deal with it the way a lot of other companies have, I guess. They had to close," he said.
According to Miller, RV manufacturers will still be able to have their units moved to dealerships, as the independent contractors will quickly be hired by other transportation companies.
"Somebody is going to move them. It just, unfortunately, won't be the company that I helped to build, and I was devastated by the news," Miller said.
While some drivers live in Elkhart, many live in other states, he said.
"The one common denominator is they all end up here to pick up trailers and RVs and transport them to the rest of the country," he said.
The Colorado jury's decision, finding Bollinger to be an agent of CWRV, could have significant ramifications for the RV transportation industry, Miller said, as companies will have to figure out how to address their liability concerns.
According to Freight Broker Live, CWRV has been hiring new contractors as recently as this month. Freight Broker Live published an email allegedly from CWRV, stating that the company would shut down on Nov. 1 due to "business developments outside of our control."
According to the email, CWRV will process payment for all services rendered before Nov. 1.
"We have greatly appreciated all of you," the email concluded.
A representative of CWRV could not confirm or deny that shutdown on Friday afternoon. Management did not immediately respond to an interview request.
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