As an update on the truck/bus collision Wednesday in Pennsylvania, we are learning more about the truck company whose truck crossed the median and struck the bus. Subsequent reports about the accident indicated that the driver of the tractor trailer which crossed the median was Franklin Wyatt of Macomb, Oklahoma. He was driving for Greatwide Dedicated Transport, which is an operating division of Cardinal Logistics Holdings, LLC from North Carolina. We checked one of our resources for handling commercial truck cases and found that “Greatwide Dedicated Transport” corporate structure is becoming increasingly common in the interstate trucking industry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists “Greatwide Dedicated Transport” I, II and III – each with different Department of Transportation “DoT” numbers – all registered at the same address in North Carolina. We frequently see many layers of corporations in an attempt to insulate the assets of the corporation in liability cases. In other words, even though it may be clear that the driver crossed the median, the corporate defense lawyers for the corporation and for the driver will work hard to say that the parent corporation had no role in monitoring the safety of its drivers. That is expressly contrary to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In fact, there is very strong case law in Pennsylvania which will hold the parent corporations fully accountable all the way up the corporate ladder.
Responsible for what, you may ask? The obligation to insure compliance with basic hours of service rules is a corporate responsibility; checking drivers’ experience and qualifications before employment; making sure a driver is healthy enough to be behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound vehicle, etc. are just a few of the important safety checks that were required before Mr. Wyatt drove for Greatwide. Let’s hope they did everything they were supposed to have done.