Yesterday an Oregon jury returned a large verdict against a trucking brokerage company for its negligent hiring of a drug addict. The jury awarded over $5 million, including punitive damages, to the family of a man killed in 2008 because the broker failed to do any due diligence when it hired Washington Transportation to hire drivers to haul goods for bottled water giant Nestle Waters.
The jury was swayed by the fact that the truck driver was coming off a crystal methamphetamine high and fell asleep at the wheel when he crashed his 18 wheeler into the deceased man, who was standing beside his own tractor-trailer inspecting its brakes.
The key evidence was that the trucking broker negligently hired a man who claimed to be operating for Washington Transportation, when it was a company owned by his twin brother. Further, the broker did not carry insurance and had no legal operating authority, statutory violations which had repeatedly occurred in the past. Tje company had no legal authority to transact trucking business due to its repeated and flagrant disregard of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations.
The at fault truck driver served time in prison for negligent homicide and driving under the influence. The trucking broker is no longer in business.
I have handled similar cases where individuals have tragically been killed or seriously injured by commercial truck drivers and have collected damages for the negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent retention against the trucker’s company. However it has been difficult to prove negligence against the trucking broker. Here is a new case I will be able to argue, even though it is from an Oregon federal district court.