In a tragic case out of Florida a woman won a $10 million wrongful-death judgment against the Domino’s delivery driver who caused an accident that led to the death of her husband. Domino’s has said it intends to appeal, arguing that the driver is an employee of an independent franchisee and that Domino’s should thus avoid legal liability for his actions.
The crash occurred back in 2011 when the Domino’s driver pulled out into Richard and Yvonne Wiederhold’s lane of traffic. Richard, a fire chief, swerved to avoid colliding with the delivery vehicle, which caused his car to flip and crash into a tree. Yvonne was in the car too and suffered serious cuts to her legs, but Richard was left paralyzed from the chest down. Yvonne then spent the next 15 months caring for her husband, feeding him through a tube and bathing him. Unfortunately, Richard developed a blood clot and died shortly thereafter, a complication associated with his paralysis.
Initially, Richard and Yvonne had filed a personal injury lawsuit against Domino’s, asking for the company to pay their medical bills. Domino’s agreed, but after Richard died and the case turned into a wrongful-death action, the company refused to consider paying out any more money. Domino’s argued that because the delivery driver was an employee of an independent franchisee, and not a Domino’s employee, that the company should be shielded from liability.
Thankfully for Yvonne, a jury in Orlando disagreed and just last week awarded her more than $10 million. Of this total, damages were awarded for mental anguish, loss of companionship and pain and suffering. The jury found Richard 10% responsible for the crash, awarding the other 90% of responsibility to the delivery driver. The jury also concluded that Domino’s was responsible for the actions of its franchisees, including the negligent driving of a delivery driver.
Given the breakdown in responsibility, this means that Yvonne will be able to collect up to $9 million, unless Domino’s has its way. The company has said that though it feels terrible for what’s happened to Yvonne, it should not be forced to pay for the harm caused by an employee of a franchisee. The commercial relationship between Domino’s and the franchise operator was specifically designed to limit Domino’s liability in cases like this, something that the jury in Orlando chose to disregard.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at (601) 856-7800.