United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants H&F Transfer,
Inc. (“H&F”) and Walter Patrick Dorn,
IV's (“Dorn”) (together,
“Defendants”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
action arises from an August 8, 2014, collision (the
“Collision”) between Plaintiff Gregory Wiedeman
(“Plaintiff”) and Dorn, an employee of H&F.
(See Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material
Facts [201.1] (“DSUMF”) ¶¶ 1-3;
Pl.'s Resp. [204.1] (“R-DSUMF”) ¶¶
1-3). Plaintiff was riding his motorcycle northbound on
Lawrenceville Highway in DeKalb County, Georgia at 9:55 p.m.
on the day of the Collision. (DSUMF ¶ 1; R-DSUMF ¶
1). Dorn was driving his box truck southbound on
Lawrenceville Highway. (DSUMF ¶ 2, R-DSUMF ¶ 1).
Dorn was making a left turn onto Montreal East Road when
Plaintiff struck the truck. (DSUMF ¶ 3; R-DSUMF ¶
and both his passengers, Matthew Smarr and Tommy Frye,
testified that, at the time of the Collision, Dorn had a
green arrow. (DSUMF ¶ 4; R-DSUMF ¶ 4). Plaintiff
testified that he had a green light. (DSUMF ¶ 5; R-DSUMF
police officer quickly arrived on the scene of the Collision.
(DSUMF ¶ 9; R-DSUMF ¶ 9). The police report
narrative states: “Driver 1 [Plaintiff] failed to yield
for a red light and struck vehicle #2. Driver #1 stated to me
that he did not know what he was thinking when he ran the
light.” ([169.1] at 2).
time of the Collision, Dorn was employed by H&F, and was
acting within the course and scope of his employment. (DSUMF
¶ 12; R-DSUMF ¶ 12). Plaintiff contends that
H&F failed to qualify Dorn under the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSRs”), including
because H&F failed to provide an application that
complied with the requirements of the FMCSRs. H&F failed
to include certain information on its FMCSR application,
including carrier information, date of birth, prior address,
equipment experience, and prior traffic violations.
(See DSUMF ¶ 19; R-DSUMF ¶ 19). Plaintiff
contends that a driver who is not qualified cannot operate a
commercial motor vehicle. (See R-DSUMF ¶ 16).
ten-year driving record shows that, on January 28, 2012, he
received a ticket for “Disobeying an official traffic
device”-that is, running a red light, stop sign, or the
like. (See [204.135] at 2). His record also shows
three speeding tickets between 2010 and 2014. (Id.).
Before he was hired by H&F, Dorn had been arrested for
public drunkenness, possession of marijuana, and possession
or consumption of alcohol on public property.
2016, H&F obtained a report showing that Dorn did not
have any violations that would have disqualified him from
driving the truck. (DSUMF ¶17). Plaintiff's expert,
Whitney Morgan, agrees that nothing in Dorn's file,
including his driving record, disqualified him from driving
the truck. (DSUMF ¶ 18).
February 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint
. In it, Plaintiff asserts the following claims against
H&F: (1) respondeat superior liability for
Dorn's allegedly negligent actions; (2) negligent hiring,
retention, entrustment and supervision of Dorn; (3) failure
to comply with federal and state motor carrier safety
regulations and trucking industry standards of care; and (4)
punitive damages pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1.
Plaintiff asserts the following claims against Dorn: (1)
negligence; (2) reckless driving; and (3) punitive damages
pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1.
September 30, 2016, Defendants filed their Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment. Defendants seek summary judgment on
Plaintiff's claims for punitive damages and on
Plaintiff's claims for negligent hiring, retention,
entrustment and supervision against H&F. Defendants argue
that, because there is no evidence that Dorn acted with
malice or evil motive or that he exhibited a pattern or
policy of dangerous driving, Plaintiff cannot recover
punitive damages from him. H&F argues that
Plaintiff's negligent hiring, training, supervision,
retention, and entrustment claims should be dismissed because
H&F admits it may be liable for Dorn's actions under
a respondeat superior theory of liability. H&F
argues it is not subject to punitive damages for any alleged
negligent hiring, training, entrustment, supervision, or
retention because there is no evidence that Dorn had any
driving violations, that he was not qualified to drive the
truck, or that he was incompetent or reckless.