Joseph Farris and Michael O’Malley of Franden, Farris, Quillin, Goodnight and Roberts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently obtained a defense verdict in favor of Hogan Truck Leasing, Inc. in a 5-day jury trial in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.
In the early morning hours of October 11, 2013 a truck driver for a large produce company drifted off the road and struck a light pole. He was operating a semi-truck leased to the company by Hogan Truck Leasing. The driver told the investigating officer he fell asleep. The truck could not be driven and the truck, trailer, load, and driver were taken to Around the Clock Freightliner in Oklahoma City via tow truck. The driver called the emergency road service number on the Hogan truck and stated his supervisor wanted another truck. Hogan contacted Around the Clock Freightliner and arranged for a replacement truck rental. The driver delivered his load in Oklahoma City and continued on to Stillwater, Oklahoma. In route, the driver crossed the centerline on Oklahoma Highway 33 and collided with Plaintiff’s decedent’s vehicle, killing her. Post-accident, a blood test indicated metabolites of methamphetamine in the driver’s system.
Plaintiff argued that because Hogan was on notice that the driver fell asleep and had an accident earlier in the morning, Hogan should have reviewed his record of service logs and demanded a post-accident drug test. Plaintiff’s “trucking issues expert” conceded on cross examination that the driver’s employer, rather than Hogan, was under a duty to administer a post-accident drug test and monitor his logs. Further, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper that investigated the first accident testified that he did not arrest the driver as there was no suspicion that he was under the influence of anything.