Judge Clears Metro Nashville of Liability in Fatal Tow Truck Accident
We have previously discussed a terrible personal injury lawsuit, Bishop v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, involving the death of a man who was beaten outside a convenience store and left unconscious in the middle of the road, where he was then struck and killed by a tow truck. Back in April, the federal judge overseeing the family’s personal injury lawsuit dismissed claims against the owner and operator of the convenience store. At the time, the judge allowed separate claims against the Nashville Metro government, which owned the tow truck, to proceed.
Following a bench trial, a federal judge issued a legal opinion on November 12, finding that Metro was not in fact liable for the victim’s tragic death.
Judge: Drug Gang, Not Tow Truck Driver, Caused Victim’s Fatal Injuries
U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh explained that under Tennessee law, the plaintiffs–the victim’s next of kin–needed to prove that the tow truck operator himself was negligent while acting in the “scope of his employment” with Metro. As with any personal injury claim, the plaintiffs also needed to show the tow truck driver owed the victim some legal “duty of care” that he then breached.
Based on the evidence presented at trial, Judge Steeh said the plaintiffs failed to prove such a breach. The tow truck driver did have a legal duty to “keep a lookout as an ordinarily prudent person would have kept under the same or similar circumstances.” In this case, the tow truck driver did maintain a proper lookout, the judge said, and there was no evidence that he was driving unsafely or recklessly. The court rejected the position, taken by an expert witness called by the plaintiffs, that the driver should have “expected the unexpected,” i.e., a person lying unconscious in the middle of the road.
This brought the judge to his next critical finding, namely that the tow truck driver “did not cause this unfortunate accident.” The victim’s death was the result of “his assault by thieves and drug dealers which rendered him unconscious and left prone on the highway.” Under the circumstances, the judge said there was nothing the tow truck driver could have done.
Given there was no evidence of negligence by the tow truck driver, Judge Steeh said there was no legal basis for holding Metro liable for its employee’s actions.
Speak with a Nashville Car Accident Lawyer Today
There are situations where the actions of multiple parties to an accident may share liability. From a legal standpoint, it is critical to establish each potential defendant’s duty of care, as well as how their specific actions may have contributed to the victim’s injuries. This requires careful investigation prior to initiating any litigation.
If you have been involved in such a complex accident and need legal advice on what steps to take, it is imperative to work with a qualified Nashville car accident lawyer who has experience in handling these types of cases. Contact the offices of Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney today.