By Ron Chauvel
In what appears to be a new trend, an Oregon jury awarded plaintiffs $5.2 million against a brokerage company for negligent hiring. The broker, Heyl Logistics, hired a motor carrier to transport a load. An accident occurred and the plaintiff's father was killed. The evidence indicated that Heyl had failed to do due diligence before hiring the trucker who had no insurance or operating authority. The trucking company was shown to have had a history of violations, including revocation of its operating authority for failure to conduct drug testing.
There is presently little or no government regulation of brokers, and plaintiff's counsel argued that it is now up to the courts "to keep our roads safer by providing a deterrent to careless brokers." This argument applies equally to motor carriers that subcontract freight shipments to other truckers for transportation. The clear message is that brokers and carriers need to get serious about conducting thorough due diligence before giving loads out to other carriers.