Diaz v. Carcamo, 2010 WL 654346 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010)

Dawn Diaz was seriously injured when she was struck by a car that jumped a freeway center divider following its collision with a truck that was driven by Jose Carcamo (a truck driver who was employed by Sugar Transport). Diaz sued both drivers as well as Sugar Transport and obtained a jury verdict in the amount of approximately $23 million. Diaz alleged that Sugar Transport was vicariously liable for Carcamo’s negligence as well as for its own direct negligence in hiring Carcamo, who had been involved in other accidents before Sugar Transport hired him and who had been terminated from his prior employment. On appeal, Sugar Transport argued that the jury should not have been permitted to find it liable for negligent hiring after it conceded at trial that it was vicariously liable for Carcamo’s negligence. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of Diaz and held that the jury was permitted to find Sugar Transport liable on both negligence theories. In addition, the Court held that the trial court properly instructed the jury about Sugar Transport’s willful suppression of evidence involving a missing tachograph chart which would have shown whether Carcamo sped up immediately before the accident. See also Lobo v. Tamco, 2010 WL 625805 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010) (employee who was on his way home may have been acting within the course and scope of his employment when his negligent driving resulted in the death of a deputy sheriff who was on a motorcycle).