Fed Ex truck strikes pedestrian in fueling bay

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Case in Point

March 26, 2013

Fed Ex truck strikes pedestrian in fueling bay 

Suit alleged that the truck’s driver failed to keep a proper lookout and that Fed Ex was vicariously liable for his negligence and directly liable for failing to properly train, supervise, monitor, assign, and manage its drivers. The parties settled for a confidential amount. Gaitan v. Fed. Express Corp.

Julian Carranza, 65, parked his truck at a truck stop and went into the convenience store. As he was walking back to his truck, FedEx driver Dennis Butler pulled his rig into one of the fueling bays and struck Carranza.

Carranza suffered extensive brain and skull injuries. He died about six months later of injury-related complications and is survived by his sister and two adult children. At the time of his death, Carranza was earning $41,000 annually as a truck driver. His paid medical expenses totaled about $402,000.

Carranza’s sister, on behalf of his estate, sued Butler, alleging that he was negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout. Had he practiced the minimum safety standards for a commercial driver and kept a proper lookout for pedestrians, suit claimed, the incident would not have occurred. The plaintiff also sued FedEx Corp., alleging vicarious liability for Butler’s negligence.

Suit further alleged that FedEx was directly liable for failing to properly train, supervise, monitor, assign, and manage its drivers. The plaintiff asserted that there was a culture among the company’s managers that permitted a loose interpretation of, and adherence to, written safety rules. The plaintiff also contended that FedEx showed a lack of interest in determining exactly how Carranza was injured and how to prevent future similar incidents. Among other things, the plaintiff claimed, the company failed to fairly and objectively investigate the incident, changed the investigation report to remove blame from the driver, and failed to remind other drivers of the dangers of driving in areas where pedestrians are present. The plaintiffs also alleged that FedEx was negligent in placing Butler behind the wheel on the date of the incident because the company had cited him for inattentive driving.

The defendants argued that Carranza was contributorily negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout. The defense also argued that Butler did not hit Carranza with his rig but that he suffered a diabetic episode, causing him to collapse and strike his head.

The parties settled for a confidential amount. There are medical and ERISA liens totaling about $251,900.

Citation: Gaitan v. Fed. Express Corp., No. L-11-0053-CV-C (Tex., Live Oak Co. Jud. Dist. Oct. 15, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Robert E. Ammons and Anjali Nigam, both of Houston.

Plaintiff experts: James P. Evans, accident reconstruction, College Station, Texas; Roger C. Allen, commercial trucking safety, Friendswood, Texas; John B. Lenox, biomechanics, San Antonio, Texas; H. David Feltoon, psychology, Austin, Texas; and Randolph W. Evans, neurology, Houston.

Defense experts: Brian Charles, accident reconstruction, Corpus Christi, Texas; Richard Harding, biomechanics, San Antonio; and Alan J. Garber, endocrinology, Houston.


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