Thursday, June 13, 2024

Motion To Amend to Add Claims of Recklessness/Punitive Damages Due to Truck Driver Using Headset Denied

In the case of Legions v. Abdurasulov, No. 4545-CV-2022 (C.P. Monroe Co. March 8, 2024 Williamson, J.), the court denied a Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend his Amended Complaint to reinstate a claim for punitive damages and allegations of recklessness and reckless indifference.

According to the Opinion, this matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer. 

The court had previously ruled that allegations of reckless conduct pled the Plaintiff in earlier versions of the Complaint did not meet the minimal pleading requirement to sustain a cause of action for punitive damages. In this Opinion, it was indicated that the parties had completed certain aspects of discovery and the Plaintiff was attempting to have the claims of recklessness and the claims for punitive damages reinstated.

The Plaintiff asserted that dashcam footage from the Defendant tractor trailer’s truck allegedly showed that the Defendant truck driver had failed to stop for an adequate amount of time at a red light and also that the truck driver was allegedly distracted by speaking, via a headset in his right ear, to someone on the phone at the time of the accident.

The court agreed with the Defendant that the issues raised by the Plaintiff with regards to whether or not the truck driver had stopped or did not stop long enough at a red light had been previously rejected as being reckless conduct rising to the level of punitive damages.

As such, with this Opinion, the court addressed the issue of whether the Defendant tractor trailer driver acted recklessly by using a headset to speak with someone while driving.

After reviewing the law regarding punitive damages generally along with certain cases addressing the issue of whether a claim of punitive damages is appropriate when a driver is speaking on telephone at the time of the accident, the court ruled that the Plaintiff’s Motion to Reinstate the Claims of Recklessness and Punitive Damages would be denied. The court ruled that, under the facts of this case, driving a tractor trailer while speaking through a headset did not rise to the level of “willful, wanton, or reckless” conduct so as to allow an amendment of the pleadings as requested.

The court ruled that the evidence revealed that the driver was using a hands-free earpiece in his right ear, which device did not obstruct his view while driving. It was emphasized that the truck driver did not even have his hands on a cell phone at the time of the accident. The court otherwise ruled that the act of simply talking while driving at the time of an accident does not rise to the level of reckless conduct.

Accordingly, the court ruled that the Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages is not supported by the evidence gathered during discovery. Accordingly, the motion was denied.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source of image:  Photo by Brett Jordan on

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