More Decisions on Trucking Experts: Hiring and Safety Stats

Negligent Hiring & Entrustment

1. United States District Court, D. Kansas. Terry L. Frederick and Donna F. Frederick v. Swift Transportation Co., Inc., and Robyn L. Getchel  Case No. 06-1332-MLB. Sept. 10, 2008. 591 F. Supp. 2d 1149 (D. Kan. 2008).

Swift moved to exclude the Plaintiff’s expert opinion regarding the hiring of the driver. The expert opined that Swift violated “good industry practice” and was negligent in hiring Ms. Getchel who failed driving exam multiple times. However, no federal regulations required a driver to pass exam within a certain number of tries. The court granted Swift’s motion stating that the jury could evaluate this information without expert testimony.

2. District Court of Oklahoma.  Deanna Bender, individually and as parent and next friend of Brittany Lee Bender, and Christina Marie Bender, minor children v. Kathy Sue Fracasso, an individual, Werner Enterprises, Inc.; the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania; Continental Casualty Company, and Markel American Insurance Company Case No. CJ-2002-258. WL 24302737 (Okl. Dist. 2003).

The Defendants moved to exclude the Plaintiff’s expert, Kelly Anderson, from testifying in regard to Werner’s hiring, training and supervision of their employees. The Defendants successfully argued that Anderson’s opinions were not based on any trucking industry standard, law or regulation; but rather his experience from working at one company (CFI). One company’s way of business operations cannot be assumed for an entire industry, thus, Anderson was precluded from testifying.

Safety History & Ratings

3. United States District Court, D. Kansas. Terry L. Frederick and Donna F. Frederick v. Swift Transportation Co., Inc., and Robyn L. Getchel  Case No. 06-1332-MLB. Sept. 10, 2008. 591 F. Supp 2d 1149 (D. Kan. 2008).

The Defendants moved to exclude expert testimony regarding government safety compliance audits. The Plaintiffs’ expert opined in regards to a safety compliance audit 5 years prior to case, which resulted in the motor carrier receiving a less than satisfactory rating. The Defendants argued that this compliance audit was inadmissible because: (1) a subsequent compliance audit yielded a satisfactory rating, and (2) there was no evidence that the earlier safety compliance audit had anything to do with the accident at issue in this case. As such, the Frederick court excluded expert testimony on this subject.

4. United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division. Winford Dallas Jones v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, INC. Case No. 7:06CV00547 . 558 F. Supp. 2d 630 (W.D. Va. 2008).

The Defendant moved to exclude the introduction of unsatisfactory safety ratings of their employee involved in the accident. Employee originally received an unsatisfactory rating which was then changed to a conditional rating. The Defendant asserted it had no duty to consider the safety rating when hiring, due to their expert, Sandberg, who opined that only the conditional rating was relevant. The court denied the Defendant’s motion stating that the unsatisfactory rating is relevant in evaluation of employee as a carrier and that Robinson could have found his ratings on the FMCSA website.
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