On October 28, 2022, the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an order denying a motion for summary judgment on the issue of gross negligence. The court initially reviewed examples of cases in which the facts supported a claim of gross negligence against a trucking company:
• Seven citations for traffic moving violations, one warning letter, and numerous disciplinary actions and restrictions within a span of three years are sufficient to establish recklessness or incompetence.
• Three intoxicated driving incidents and two collisions, including one collision in a two-year period preceding the accident, are sufficient to raise a fact issue as to the driver’s recklessness or incompetence.
• A reasonable jury could find that the failure to provide extra supervision and training for four “run time” violations in 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2006, which were possibly related to a subsequent collision, constituted gross negligence.
The court then reviewed the evidence presented against Garrison Trucking:
“During the year between his hiring and the day of the crash, the parties agree that the only training Defendant Hare received from Defendant Garrison was the standard onboarding curriculum that each of their drivers experience. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Garrison hired Defendant Hare subject to “yellow flags” due to Defendant Hare’s previous speeding and following-too-closely violations with a previous employer. Plaintiff further alleges that
Defendant Garrison responded to these “yellow flags” by instituting a year-long probation period for Defendant Hare – four times longer than their normal probation period – and by planning to provide Defendant Hare “additional training” and “additional attention.” But Defendant Hare received no training of any kind beyond the previously mentioned standard onboarding materials. Moreover, according to Plaintiff, Defendant Garrison did not properly
investigate Defendant Hare’s previous employment history to find evidence of other “yellow flags.”
And even when Defendant Hare’s SmartDrive monitoring system triggered four alerts for unsafe following and one for a near collision in the months preceding his crash with Plaintiff, Defendant Hare received no coaching sessions or remedial training from Defendant Garrison.
In fact, Plaintiff contends that any one of Defendant Hare’s five violations preceding his crash could have been a terminable offense since they occurred during his probation period, but Defendant Garrison took no action of any kind in response to them. Also, as proof of the feasibility of remedial measures, Plaintiff introduces evidence that Defendant Garrison did assign extra safety videos for Defendant Hare to watch in response to a subsequent unsafe
following event a month after the crash, even though that unsafe following incident was scored as less severe than the previous five comparable violations before the crash.
Read the Order by clicking here.
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