Personal Injury Lawsuit Could Go To Supreme Court
Company A hired a motor carrier Company B to deliver to haul Costco shipments. Company B provided the logistics, but one of their drivers lost control of his truck on an icy Nevada highway. The truck slid and crashed into another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was left a quadriplegic because of the crash. The plaintiff sued Company A, Company B, and Costco.
The lawsuit alleged that Company A was negligent for hiring Company B, Company B was negligent for placing an unskilled driver on the road, and we’re not sure why Costco was named as a defendant as it’s not apparent that they contributed any negligence to this incident. Company B and Costco settled their lawsuits for unknown sums of money, while Company A is still battling in court.
The case against Company A
According to the plaintiffs, Company B was notoriously ill-suited to provide logistics. The plaintiffs have dug up numbers that indicate that 40% of their trucks were under-code following inspections. They also violated federal law when it comes to hours of operation and rest breaks. Based on a law known as F4A (Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994), the circuit court rejected the plaintiff’s lawsuit on the basis that it restructured the duty of care Company A was expected to provide when hiring an auto carrier to make deliveries. The circuit court ruled that the case should be dismissed on that basis.
However, an appeals court overruled the circuit court decision saying that the F4A was inappropriately applied to this case. That allowed the negligence action against Company A to move forward. The court balked at the notion that a company would have to vet a motor carrier every time they required one. There is one exception related to safety. Essentially, the case came down to whether or not this safety exception should apply. The appeals court found that it should apply and allowed the lawsuit against Company A to move forward, while the circuit court ruled it attached a duty of care to broker services of the same type that Company A provided.
Company A has requested that the Supreme Court hear the case. The question is whether the legislation known as F4A preempts the right of the injured to file a lawsuit against the broker. The appeals court ruled that the provision in F4A that prevents negligence lawsuits against brokers should be applied to this case. However, the plaintiffs point to state laws that they believe should be applied. Company A successfully argued that federal law trumps state law, and that the safety exception should not be applied because Company A did not own or operate the vehicle. The fear that if brokers are held liable for the conduct of a third-party company it would place enormous costs on the logistics industry at large. Further, it will subject all logistics companies to state and common-law negligence doctrines.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured due to a negligent truck driver or trucking company, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and allow us to begin building your case.