eNotes: Liability – November 2022 – Virginia
November 01, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
Virginia Case Summary
Paul v. Western Express, Inc.
United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Decided: February 17, 2022
Negligent hiring and retention claims must state sufficient facts to be plausible overall.
Plaintiff Judy Paul was driving southbound on I-81, and as it was raining heavily, traffic was slowing or stopped. Plaintiffs Paul and Andre Le Doux, who was driving immediately behind Paul, also slowed to a stop. The driver behind Le Doux struck him and spun off the road. The impact propelled Le Doux’s car into Paul’s car. Then, Joseph Worthy, an employee of Western Express, collided with both Paul and Le Doux, causing both Plaintiffs to suffer traumatic injuries. Plaintiffs alleged that Worthy acted negligently and that Western Express was negligent in hiring and retaining Worthy in light of his prior driving record.
Plaintiffs alleged that Worthy had several incidents on his driving record at the time Western Express hired him, including a violation for following too closely, improperly or erratically changing lanes, one incident of his rig overturning due to his overcorrecting after his breaks locked-up, and a vague report from a prior employer that Worthy was terminated for “too many incidents.” Western Express moved to dismiss the negligent hiring and retention claims.
On a Motion to dismiss a claim for negligent hiring and retention, Plaintiffs must allege facts sufficient to show that an ordinary, prudent, employer under the circumstances would have foreseen that an injury might probably result from a negligent act. The claim must be supported by facts sufficient to make the claim plausible. While a prior suspension of Worthy’s commercial driver’s license, standing alone, was insufficient to state a claim for negligent hiring, the other incidents in Worthy’s motor vehicle operation history make the Plaintiffs’ negligent hiring claim plausible enough to survive the Motion to dismiss.
Questions about this case can be directed to Mackenzie Payne at (571) 470-1906 or email@example.com.