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Roger
Roger, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 31788
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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Ray Johnson and his eight-year-old son, David, were waiting

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Ray Johnson and his eight-year-old son, David, were waiting for a “walk” sign before crossing a street in downtown Salt Lake City. A truck owned by Newspaper Agency Corporation (NAC) and operated by its emploXXXXX, XXXXX XXXXX, crossed the intersection and jumped the curb, killing David and injuring Ray. Before reporting for work on the evening of the accident, Rogers had consumed approximately seven mixed drinks containing vodka and had chugalugged a 27-ounce drink containing two minibottles of tequila. His blood alcohol content after the accident was .18 percent.
Evidence showed that the use of alcohol and marijuana was widespread at NAC and that the company made no effort to curtail such use. Evidence further showed that NAC vehicles were returned with beer cans in them and that on one occasion, an NAC supervisor who had observed drivers smoking marijuana had told the drivers to “do it on the road.” Ray Johnson sued Rogers and NAC for the wrongful death of his child, David, and physical injury to Ray. Is NAC liable? Johnson v. Rogers, 763 P.2d 771, 90 Utah Adv.Rep.3, Web 1988 Utah Lexis 81 (Supreme Court of Utah)
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Roger replied 5 years ago.

Hi -

 

The Johnsons filed a complaint for the wrongful death of their son that occurred when he and Mr. Johnson were struck by NAC's truck. The trial court granted NAC's motions for summary judgment as to Johnson's claims for punitive damages, but denied defendants' motions as to plaintiff father's emotional distress claim. The parties appealed.

 

The court reversed the dismissal of the punitive damages claim against defendant employee because such damages were permissible in cases involving drunk driving if extreme, outrageous, or shocking behavior occurred. The dismissal of the punitive damages claim against defendant employer was reversed because there was a material issue of fact as to whether wrongful acts were committed or specifically authorized by defendant employer or were committed by defendant employee who was recklessly employed. The court affirmed the decision denying the motion as to the emotional distress claim because plaintiff father, who was a parent in the "zone of danger," could recover for the trauma associated with seeing a child injured.

The court reversed the decision dismissing the punitive damages claim against defendant employee because such damages were allowable in drunk driving cases. The decision dismissing the punitive damages claim against defendant employer was reversed because an issue of fact existed. The decision denying defendants' motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff father's claim for emotional distress was affirmed because he was in the zone of danger.

 

The appeal court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. Thus, no decision as to liability was ultimately decided. However, based on the ruling, NAC is liable to the Johnsons.

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