No Immunity for Negligent Hiring of Truckers

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No Immunity for Negligent Hiring of Truckers
4 o THE LEGAL.I}ITELLIGEN9ER
M O N D A Y ,J U N E 5 , 2 0 Q 6
N E-.Sfl,S
,i
Nolmmunity
for"N,egligent
Hiringof,Trueker'
BYMICHAELBOOT}I
tractor tliat did so," she continued.
New York's Camacho Mauro Mulholland,
The court unanimously reversed lorver 'deblinescomment,
courtrulings that dismissedBFI-NY on sumThe Puckreins were killed on June 22,
hile there is generally no vicari:
mary judgment, saying the cotrrts had mis1998, in North Plainfield, NJ., when their
ous liability-foi indepehdentcon- read a piecedential niling thdt sets out the car wds Struckby a tractor-tniler containing
ttactors' acts, a priricipal may be "incompetent contractdr" exception .to' the crushedglasswith a grossweight of 79,000
liable in New Jerseyfor negligent hiring ifit.
geneial ininunity rule.
pounds,which went through a'red light. A
'
fails to makesurea truck it engagesis regisPaul Brandes,the lawyer for the estatesof
statepoliceengineerlater determinedthattlie
tered,inspected,insuredand driVenproperly; Kevin and Alecia Puckrein. said the court truck had, at most, 54 percentof the lequlred
the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last
braking capacity
week.
The tractor-trailer was owned by -AII
rhe justices,
ii Puckrein
v..ATI
Transport Inc., a t-.{ewYork subsidiary of
PaUl
BfAndeS,
IAWyef
Vhe
?anipoft
Inc,, held that Bro'wning-Ferris.Industries
of
World Carting Co., also of New York. BFI?
Newyorkrnc.,aproviiterJ;il;;;r"- - fo, the estatesof Keuin
NY had retained'World Carting to transport
.
. I
.
ment,recyclingan{sanitationservices,may
.... I rt
waste from New York Cify @ a Newarl<
rl
|
f%C?feln'
SAXL
be heldliablefor thedearhsof a Somersei AnA.flrcCtt
incinerator,Amdrican Ref-Fuel.'
c"""'Y'T.r":*Pt I.a csllision
witha the court chsed a hoohole
The tractor-trailer was uninswed and
t
waste-nauung lrucK lt nao nrreo.
,
unregistered.The driver, Gaizka ldoeta, was
"tet "o*n"nr whose
cp,re-purpose
is the- - --- thAt hAd AllOWed
issued numerous tickets and was charged
i
tr"' "
iollection and transpoitAtion of materidls on
with manslaughter,for which he was acquitthc highwayshas a duty to usereasonable
ted. The owner of World Carting and AII
COfnPAnigS tO inSUlAte
care in the hiring of an independent trucker
Transport, John Stangle, pleaded guilty to a
themSglUeS.
includinga duty to makean inquiryinio tliat
chargeof creatinga risk of widespreadinjury
trucker's ability to travel legally on the high.or damage.
i!
ways," Justice Vrginia Long wrote for the
A wrongftrl death suit. against multiple
':
court.' .
. closeda loophole.thathad-allowedcomila- defendantSfoltowed iir Somerset.County,but
'"'At
"The ruling said SuperiorCourt JudgeYolandaCicconegtanta minimum, BFI-NY was reqirired nies tciiirsulatethemselves,
just
io inquire wheiher its haulers had proper Oit Uig companiescan't
hire gypsy ed summaryjudgment dismissing BFI-NY as
'dbfendants
goods,"
arid
registration
because
withtruckers
carry
their
defaultto
said
Brandi:s,' a party, and the rest of the
-instrance
out thgse items-the hauler.had no right to of Marltori, NJ.'s Villari Brandes& Klihe. ed before the casecameto a ve_rdict.The $ I .7
be on the roa4. Just as BFI-NY its.ef ."It's one of the-first, if not the first, ruling million jutlgment was thus fe4flgred uncol. could,not have. transportedproducts in'..thdtbodifiestheqorqmontawgnthisissue.of,lectible.
i . '. , , , Ciccsne, asd the'Appelgfe Division
ri"nregistefbdand rininsiirbd tnicks; it was;r, liabiiity.:' .'."- ;':'r , :". i' :' ;: I , ,.
'
':'BFI+IrI-Y'S
I
iiot free to engage-dn independent con--,
lawyer, ChristopheiMauro, oii
TrucAernntinueJon 6
ALM .
i
' But Lirng iuia tlut the lower courts'had
iead Mavrikidis too narrowly. Iir that case,
tlre principal hired a subbiinlractorto paVea
contirudfrm 4
road. The plaintiff was noi iniured during the
paving job bui during the traiisport of equippanel that affi.rmed, relied on Mavrikidis y. ment and piciductsto the job site; which was
Petulo,inwhichtheeourtsaidthat"topre- peripheralto iiie paving funition. iTerice,
vail against thd principal for 'hiring an ..r.therewasno evideircefrorti which the princi.
incompetent contractor, a plaintiff must pal should have concludedthat the subconshow that the contractor was, in fact, tractor was incompetentio do th" work for
incompetentor unskilled to perform thejob which it washired,Long observed.
"By contraSt,.thevery job that BFI-I'ry.
for which he/shewas hired, thai the harm
that resulted arose out of that incompe- ,.hired,WcjrldCarting/ATl tci do'was to haul
tence,and that the principal knew or -slrould. waste and recyclables.dcrossstate'.1iires,"
have known of
dis, trrinsportation wasnot peripherdlto tlie BFI-NYAVprld to sur4maryjudgment, Long sdid. ,,At the
carting contract,it wasthe coiitiact.Hadthat very ieast,thereasonableness
ofits inquiry to
been the cdse in Mavrikidisl we have no World Czirtingwai; a jury issde,'ishewrote.
doubt tlatthe iesult would have beendiffer- . "Even ii ii Jodti bo proved that bFI-Ny
ent."
ftade reasonableincjuiry of Woiid Carting at
Trucker
Long
ddded,
"Urilike
the clairirs in
the time of its original retenrion, its duty did
Mavrikidis,' licensirig, registration, and ' not end there."
insurance are, under our law, the sine qda
Pidiirtfrr lawyer Braades iiid he witl seek
ndd to the transport of goods on the roadcompedsatory and punitivri dimages frcim
- Allied Waste Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., the
ways."
Thus, the only question was "whether BFIcountry's second-largestwaste-hauler, which
NY violated its duty to' use reasonable care in
bought Browningferris in 1999.
selecting g trucker zind whether itknew or
This ariicle.originally
appeared in rhe
-.
shorild have knowri bf World Carting'q . New Jersey Law Jorirnal; a publication of
'.A,LM:
,;
incoinpetence," and BFI-NY was not dntitled