The Court of Appeal of Kentucky recently decided a case that involved a car accident and an employee who drove in his car and later was involved in a car accident. This case was decided in July of 2009. In July of 2004, Christopher Gordon drove an uninsured car that hit a car driven by James Butler that also had a passenger in it. Mr. Butler was a former employee of Levee Lift, Inc.. After a 3 day trial, the trial court dismissed the law suit against Mr. Gordon’s employer Levee and dismissed the case against Mr. Gordon’s wife for letting him drive her car uninsured. A jury ultimately found no liability against Levee and awarded Butler and his passenger approximately $2 million in total. After motions were filed, the trial court did change its earlier ruling as with regard to Mrs. Gordon stating that she did in fact have a statutory duty not to knowingly permit the vehicle which she co-owned to be driven by an unlicensed driver. (See West v. Levee Lift, Inc., 2009 WL 2192746 (Ky.App. 2009)).
Mr. Gordon on the day of the accident went to work and worked until approximately 4pm. He left and went home and approximately 2 hours later, drove his car on a trip with his wife to Alabama. That is when the accident happened. While at work, Mr. Gordon was alone with only one co-employee. At trial, that co-employee testified that he did not see Mr. Gordon drink any alcohol. Mr. Gordon did testify that he drank a little at work, but that he was not intoxicated. He also admitted to consuming about 8-12 shots of vodka on the drive home from work. Further, evidence at trial came out that his employer Levee knew he did not possess a valid driver’s license but that they had admonished him previously not to drive to and from work and in fact paid him $250 per month for travel expenses. These are all facts that the car accident attorney for the defense brought out at trial.
The appeals court did note that it was undisputed that at the time of the accident, Mr. Gordon was not acting on behalf of his employer Levee. Id. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court gave a jury instruction that the Plaintiff’s car accident attorney did not like. He had offered a different one, but the trial court went with the standard general negligence instruction. The Plaintiff’s car accident attorney wanted a jury instruction that had negligent retention and failure to control language in it. But, the trial court did not think that the evidence warranted it. In order to get those types of instructions, there has to be a causal relationship between the employment and the harm. The appellate court agreed with the trial court that it is unfathomable that Levee could have prevented Mr. Gordon from driving his own vehicle to Alabama two hours after he departed the work premises. Id. Under the facts presented, there was absolutely no relationship between Mr. Gordon’s employment and the car accident. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville car accident matter, please call and speak to a Louisville car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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