Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Not Everyone Agrees That Nevada Will Follow Majority Rule Dismissing Negligent Entrustment / Supervision / Training Where Motor Carrier Admits Course And Scope

Negligent EntrustmentIn an earlier post HERE, the Nevada Trucking Law Blog called attention to decisions coming out of the U.S. District Court for Nevada supporting the proposition that claims of negligent entrustment / training / supervision should be dismissed if the motor carrier admits its driver was in the course and scope of employment.  See Adele v. Dunn, 2013 WL 1314944, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44602 (D. Nev. 2013) and Cuadras-Barraza v. Stringer, Case No. 2:13-cv-01627-GMN-VCF (D. Nev. Nov. 15, 2013). Another more recent case that follows the majority rule is Gonzalez v. Kirk, 2:14-CV-39 JCM (VCF) (D. Nev. May 4, 2014).

However, on the other side of that argument is the published opinion of Wright v. Watkins & Shepard Trucking, Inc., 972 F.Supp.2d 1218 (D. Nev., 2013).  In that case, the truck driver struck and critically injured a pedestrian.

Without citing either the Adele or the Cuadras-Barraza orders, Judge Larry Hicks weighed in stating that it was his belief that when the decision comes before the Nevada Supreme Court that it will not follow the majority rule cited in McHaffie v. Bunch, 891 S.W.2d 822, 826 (Mo.1995).  Perhaps the court’s decision was swayed by an “anonymous letter” received by the court complaining about the hiring practices of Watkins & ShepherdWhatever the reason, the court rejected the argument that the risks created by negligent hiring / training / supervision are the same as those of negligent driving.  Instead, the court said that risks of the two practices were different enough to allow negligent hiring / supervision / entrustment to go the jury even where the motor carrier admits course and scope.  The court went on to say that while evidence of negligent hiring might be prejudicial, the court could adequately make a call about the evidence at the time of trial.  Finally, the court stated that punitive damages claims were not a ready substitute for the tort of negligent hiring or retention.  972 F.Supp.2d 1221.  In balance, the court felt the Nevada Supreme Court was more likely to follow the minority rule stated in James v. Kelly Trucking Co., 377 S.C. 628 S.E.2d 329 (2008).

Hopefully, the Nevada Supreme Court will soon have the chance to address this question.  In the meantime, the issue is still an open one in Nevada.

If you have questions about any of the exceptions to this rule or any other issue of trucking in law in Nevada, don’t hesitate to call Mike Mills at 702-240-6060×114 or email him at mike@mcmillslaw.com.

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