Guaranteed deliveries in 30 minutes or less is the pledge on which Domino’s Pizza staked its reputation in the 1980s. The national pizza-maker was eventually forced to dump the promise after it lost a $79 million dollar lawsuit to an accident victim injured by a Domino’s driver whose reckless driving persuaded the jury that Domino’s had prioritized revenue over public safety. In a similar, even more tragic case before that, a woman actually died because of a Domino’s driver who raced to beat the 30-minute clock.
Let the pizza master answer
While a number of years have passed since Domino’s abandoned its 30-minute delivery guarantee, the corporation recently found itself in hot water again for an employee’s actions while driving. Specifically, a jury in Texas awarded $32 million to a couple involved in a fatal car crash with a Domino’s driver.
The vehicle being driven by the Domino’s employee had worn, defective tires, which were identified as the cause of the accident that claimed the life of one woman and left her husband with a traumatic brain injury, rendering him unable to speak. The legal issue at the heart of the lawsuit was whether Domino’s was responsible for a franchisee’s failure to enforce corporate policy requiring driver’s vehicles to pass inspection. The jury in this case found that Domino’s was 60 percent responsible for the damages.
Determining employer liability
While the Domino’s case was tried in Texas, Florida law does permit victims to hold employers liable for the actions of employee-drivers in certain situations. Specifically, employers may be liable because of:
- Employer negligence for hiring drivers who are not qualified due to the lack of required licensure or improper driving-record checks
- Negligent supervision for not ensuring that drivers comply with safety laws
- Vicarious liability, in which negligence is ascribed to the employer based upon the official acts of its employees in their capacity as representatives of the employer
In any of these scenarios, individuals may be able to recover for their damages from an employer that is in a much better financial position to compensate victims than its employees, whose resources are often limited.
Negligence and liability issues in cases involving commercial drivers may be extremely complex and require the services of a competent auto accident lawyer.