Under the laws of personal injury and negligence, an employer can be liable for the misdeeds of its employee if (i) the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment duties, and (ii) the facts surrounding the injury were reasonably foreseeable. Keeping this in mind, consider the recent final decision issued by the Texas Supreme Court reversing a $32 million judgment against Domino’s Pizza, as the Court ultimately held that the pizza chain cannot be held liable for such an unforeseeable, random event as that detailed below.
In 2013, a Jefferson County jury awarded $32 million to the estates of a married couple killed in a head-on collision caused by a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver. According to the facts presented at trial, the driver inexplicably crossed over the center line of a two-land roadway, killing the oncoming driver and passenger. After tying the driver’s misconduct to his employer, the jury concluded that Domino’s was ultimately responsible for the wrongful deaths, and the eight-figure judgment ensued.
On appeal, the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals opted to completely reverse the judgment, holding that “the evidence is legally insufficient to support the jury’s finding that Domino’s controlled or had the right to control the details of the injury-producing acts or omissions of [the franchisee] and its employees.” More specifically, evidence revealed that the driver’s vehicle was in poor condition, and that the weather conditions on the night in question were slick and treacherous. After an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in October, 2016, the reversal is considered final – meaning Domino’s cannot be found liable or responsible for the unfortunate fatalities.
As personal injury practitioners, we know the importance of arguing all relevant facts – particularly in the event of a jury trial. Even if a case seems improbable and the likelihood of success slim, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away following an accident or injury.
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