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Hernandez v. Singh

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 30, 2019

Alejandro Hernandez, Jr., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Lakhvir Singh, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Dominic W. Lanza, United Slates District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         In this diversity action, Alejandro Hernandez, Jr. and Alejandro Yanez (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) allege they sustained injuries when their car was rear-ended on the highway by a semi-truck that was being driven by Lakhvir Singh (“Singh”) and that was owned by Mann Carrier, Inc. (“Mann”) (collectively, “Defendants”). (Doc. 1-1.) The complaint asserts four causes of action: (1) negligence against Singh; (2) vicarious liability against Mann; (3) negligent hiring, supervision, and training against Mann; and (4) negligent entrustment against Mann. (Id.)

         Now pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment on the third and fourth causes of action, which Plaintiffs oppose. (Docs. 70, 78, 83.) As explained below, the motion will be granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         I. The Collision

         On March 20, 2015, at approximately 9:26 p.m., Singh was driving a 2010 Kenworth T660 semi-trailer truck eastbound on I-40 in or around Kingman, Mohave County, Arizona. (Doc. 79 ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs were also driving on the I-40 in a 2006 Dodge Durango SLT 4-Door Wagon. (Id. ¶ 5.) At some point, Singh's truck collided with the rear end of Plaintiffs' vehicle. The parties dispute who was at fault for the collision.

         II. Singh's Experience

         Singh attended and graduated from Sunny Truck Driving School (“Sunny”) in Flushing, New York in 1999. (Doc. 71 [Singh Dep.] at 23:25-24:24 [pp. 34-35].)[2] Singh has not taken any truck driving classes since attending Sunny. (Doc. 79-2 [Singh Dep.] at 26:19-25.)

         Singh has been an over-the-road truck driver since 2003 and was issued a commercial driver's license in February 2008 by the state of California, which was valid at the time of the collision in this case. (Doc. 79 ¶¶ 12, 13 [Plaintiffs' concession that these points are undisputed].)

         Singh has worked for Mann since approximately 2007 as an over-the-road truck driver. (Doc. 79 ¶ 14.) When Singh was hired by Mann, he received only a 30-minute safety orientation, and he has never participated in any safety training classes while employed by Mann. (Doc. 79-2 at 79:3-20.)

         The only evidence in the record regarding Singh's motor vehicle collision history comes from Singh's deposition. Before the collision at issue in this case, Singh had been involved in three or four collisions. (Doc. 79-2 at 43:6-14.) One of those occurred while he was working for Mann, and the other two or three occurred while he was driving a taxi. (Id. at 43:15-44:3, 45:8-14.) He was also involved in two truck collisions after the one at issue here; in one of those, the other driver was cited, and in the other, cows had come onto the road. (Id. at 45:15-47:15.) None of these collisions was Singh's fault. (Id. at 47:4-7.)

         III. Mann's Employment Documents

         In response to a request for production of Singh's “employment file, ” Defendants produced only drug and alcohol testing records and a California Department of Motor Vehicle Driver History. (Doc. 79-9 at 7-8.) Defendants could not produce any written employee manuals, policies, or procedures or any other writings pertaining to Singh's employment with Mann in effect at the time of the collision. (Doc. 79-9 at 6-7.)

         In response to a separate document request, Defendants also could not produce any policies or procedures regarding training or supervising Mann's employees in operating its vehicles from March 20, 2014 onward. (Id. at 9.) And Defendants could not produce any employee manuals or handbooks provided to Singh during his employment with Mann. (Id. at 10.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “In order to carry its burden of production, the moving party must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show that the nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial.” Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). “If . . . [the] moving party carries its burden of production, the nonmoving party must produce evidence to support its claim or defense.” Id. at 1103.

         “Summary judgment is appropriate when ‘there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Rookaird v. BNSF Ry. Co., 908 F.3d 451, 459 (9th Cir. 2018) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). “A genuine dispute of material fact exists if ‘there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.'” United States v. JP Morgan Chase Bank Account No. Ending 8215 in Name of Ladislao V. Samaniego, VL: $446, 377.36, 835 F.3d 1159, 1162 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). The court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inference in the nonmoving party's favor.” Rookaird, 908 F.3d at 459. Summary judgment is also appropriate ...


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