New Jersey Court: Injured Delivery Driver Can’t Collect Damages

By | April 9, 2008

A truck driver struck by a car while making an early-morning delivery stop at a New Jersey Taco Bell cannot collect damages from his employer because his injuries entitled him to workers’ compensation benefits, a two-judge panel of the state Superior Court has ruled.

The decision affirmed a lower court’s earlier ruling in the suit brought by truck driver Joseph Dadura Jr. against hie employer, McLane Co. Inc., a company wholly owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

A car with a sleeping driver hit Dadura while he was unloading food from his truck, which was double-parked on Bergenline Avenue in West New York, New Jersey in January 2003, according to court documents.

Dadura had turned on the truck’s four-way lights but did not set up traffic cones, flags or other safety equipment since none had been issued by his employer. He had also not been trained on how to make deliveries at that stop, he said in court filings.

In his suit, Dadura maintained that he had repeatedly warned his supervisors of the dangers he faced while having to double-park the truck for deliveries at the Taco Bell. Those warnings went unheeded, Dadura asserted, and he was threatened with firing if he refused to continue the deliveries.

He had sued Wal-Mart and Mclane, and also the Taco Bell and its owners, alleging their liability for the serious injuries he sustained. He argued the delivery company should have realized the high likelihood of his injuries occurring and its failure to take steps to prevent them constituted gross negligence on its part.

Dadura did not, however, sue the driver of the car – who was given three years probation for his role in the crash. In 2006, his claims against the Taco Bell were dismissed.

In dismissing Dadura’s claims against Wal-Mart and McLane, the judges said there was not enough evidence in the case to show the companies “deliberately intended to harm (Dadura) or knew that the consequences of its inaction were substantially certain to result in harm” – an exception to the state’s workers’ compensation law which might have entitled him to damages.

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