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Federal Court Considers Whether UPS is Liable for Punitive Damages as a Result of Truck Driver's Reckless Conduct

Georgia based, United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (UPS) is the world’s largest package delivery provider. The company serves over 6 million customers across the globe every day. In 2012, the company generated nearly $55 billion in revenue.

UPS is named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit alleging liability for wrongful death and injuries resulting from an automobile accident involving one of its truck drivers.

UPS is currently named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania federal court. The lawsuit alleges liability for wrongful death and injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident caused by one of the company’s truck drivers. The motor vehicle accident occurred in March 2012, when Christina Scott’s car became disabled as she was driving northbound along Pennsylvania Route 119. Scott got out of her car and walked to the trunk of the vehicle where she was rear ended by Thomas Burke, a UPS truck driver. The motor vehicle accident killed Scott and injured one of her children, who was seated in the car.

After the accident, Scott’s husband filed a lawsuit against both UPS and Burke. The case is currently in the discovery phase, which is the period of time allotted to the parties in a case for the purpose of gathering evidence. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial sometime after the discovery phase ends in November of this year.

The Court recently granted the Plaintiff leave to request punitive damages, but stated that the fully developed case record is necessary in order to issue a ruling.

Last week, the Court addressed a preliminary motion regarding whether the plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages which go beyond what is necessary to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries, and are meant to punish the defendant. Punitive damages require a higher something more than negligence.

Scott’s husband argues that he should be allowed to seek punitive damages because UPS knew or should have known that Burke was using his cell phone at the time of the accident, that Burke had a history of safety violations, and that he failed to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. However, according to UPS the evidence described by Scott’s husband does not amount to the evil motive or reckless indifference required in order to impose punitive damages.

The Court denied UPS’s request for a ruling that would hold as a matter of law that Burke’s conduct did not constitute reckless indifference to the rights of others. The Court reasoned that the case record needs to be more fully developed before a proper determination can be made on the question of whether punitive damages are appropriate.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, or if your loved one have been killed in an automobile accident, you should contact an attorneyimmediately.