Fox & Farley, Attorneys at Law

Lawsuit blames pedestrian death on restaurant’s delivery practices

Americans have become accustomed to instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it as soon as possible. Companies that cater to this desire for instant gratification tend to be handsomely rewarded.

But when companies promise both home delivery and incredibly fast service, that speed of service should never come at the expense of safety. This is the argument that one man’s family is making in a lawsuit against Jimmy John’s, the chain of sandwich shops that promises “freaky fast delivery.”

Jimmy John’s has locations across the country, including several here in Knoxville. But the fatal pedestrian accident that prompted a lawsuit against the company occurred in a town in West Virginia. In August of last year, a man was out walking his dog when he was struck and killed by a Jimmy John’s delivery driver. The police report notes that the driver was looking at a clock on the dashboard when he struck the pedestrian.

Delivery speed has long been the focal point of the restaurant’s advertising. It is arguably how the chain has managed to do so well among its competitors. But if the company’s emphasis on fast delivery forces delivery drivers to sacrifice road safety for promptness, this business model is unsustainable and unacceptable.

The deceased victim’s daughter, who is pursuing the lawsuit, alleges the accident that caused his death can be directly linked to the company’s promise of “freaky fast delivery.” Jimmy John’s has faced at least one other lawsuit making similar allegations in recent years.

Other restaurant chains have had to change their delivery practices in response to lawsuits over unsafe driving. Many readers likely remember a time when Domino’s Pizza promised delivery in 30 minutes or less. A woman sued the company in 1993 after she was involved in a car accident with one of the restaurant’s drivers. After the lawsuit was settled, Domino’s no longer offered a 30-minute guarantee.

Companies that boast extremely fast service can make that guarantee on their own property. But with home deliveries made by driving on public roads, there are simply too many variables and risks. Safety, not speed, should always be the number-one priority.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Jimmy John’s sued in pedestrian’s death,” Richard Webner, Feb. 5, 2013

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