MSZL&M Auto and Trucking Practice Group Prevails on Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages for Violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Samantha S. Loveland of the Jacksonville, Florida office of Mintzer Sarowitz Zeris Ledva & Meyers, LLP prevailed in motion for summary judgment on punitive damages for a regional trucking firm client. Plaintiff alleges he was injured when the vehicle he was riding in was hit on I-95 in Jacksonville, FL. Plaintiff alleges that the driver was negligent in operation of his Freightliner – owned by his employer, when he swerved out of his lane causing another vehicle to hit the vehicle in which Plaintiff was a passenger. In addition to the counts of negligence against the driver and his employer, Plaintiff alleged that the employer should be liable for punitive damages for failure to abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which requires, among other things, that drivers be qualified and able to read and understand English. Plaintiff argued that because the driver was not fluent in the English language, the company failed to abide by the Regulations. However, on a Motion for Summary Judgment on the Punitive Damages claim, counsel prevailed in arguing that not only could the driver understand English, even if he could not, his ability to speak English in no way contributed to the accident and did not rise to the level of punitive damages. The Court agreed with counsel, finding that not only had Plaintiff not met the burden of proving whether or the driver any portion of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – even if he had, there was no nexus between the violation claimed and the underlying accident. The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages.