Recently, in Brumley v. Keech, 2012 Ark. 263, No. 11-874 (06-14-2012), the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s pretrial ruling that excluded evidence of a trucking company’s failure to comply with federal regulations. In particular, the trucking company defendant failed to perform a post-accident alcohol and drug test on their driver, despite one being required by 49 C.F.R. § 382.303. The Arkansas Supreme Court held there was no proof that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident and therefore the failure to conduct a post-accident alcohol and drug test technically required by a federal regulation did not cause or contribute to the wreck in question so the evidence had no bearing on the liability issues at trial. Furthermore, the evidence was not admissible for purposes of a punitive damage claim because the failure to perform the post-accident drug test occurred after the accident in question, the duty did not arise until after the accident in question, and there was no other evidence that supported or alluded to there being alcohol or drugs in driver’s system. In short, the Arkansas Supreme Court held in Brumely v. Keech that a transportation company’s violation of a duty that arises after an accident cannot be utilized to establish punitive damages because the violation is not causally related to the accident in question.
The Arkansas Supreme Court relied upon a previous ruling by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Abdul v. Logistics Express, Inc., No. 1:07, CV1186-LG-RHW, 2009 WL 6965088 (S.D. Miss. July 8, 2009).