Evidence Supports Claim by Accident Victim for Punitive Damages in Negligent Hiring of Garbage Truck Driver Who Hit Bus; Motion to Dismiss Denied

Case: Quiroz v. Zottola

Court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York

Date: 6/27/12

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn and Queens; Queens accident attorney)

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RELATED POSTS:

Bus Accidents

NO DISCLOSURE (DISCOVERY) ALLLOWED ON NEGLIGENT HIRING CLAIM WHERE BUS DRIVER WORKING AT TIME OF ACCIDENT

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Facts: Interesting motion made in this accident case to dismiss part of plaintiff's negligence claim at the outset. More aggressive than summary judgment; harder to win.

Plaintiff was injured when defendants' garbage truck struck the school bus he was driving.

Here, the defense part of plaintiff's claim for punitive damages -- meant to punish, rather than regular damages, which are meant to compensate. The punitive damages claim is attached to a claim that the defendant garbage truck company was negligent in hiring this driver. That this driver's record was so bad that he should not have been allowed to drive a garbage truck.

Held: In a motion to dismiss, the Court looks to see if the complaint sets forth a viable cause of action. The plaintiffs get the benefit of every doubt. Here, based on the garbage truck driver's driving record and anonymous complaints made against him, the accident victim made out a claim for possible gross negligence by the owner of the garbage truck for hiring him. Plaintiffs made out a case that they may be entitled to punitive damages.

Defendants' motion to dismiss is denied.

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