Jury awards $4.5M wrongful death verdict to family of motorcyclist killed by company van

A Colorado jury has awarded the estate of Eric Coleman, who was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle when a Principal Wellness Co. turned in front of him, a $4.5 wrongful death award.

Coleman, who was 44 at the time, was riding his motorcycle with his wife, Leola, as a passenger, when a 15-passenger van driven by Kristal Ehle, crossed a double yellow line and into Coleman’s path. Unable to avoid an accident, Coleman struck the side of the van and was killed.

Coleman’s mother filed suit against Ehle and Principal Wellness Co. on behalf of her son’s estate. Wrongful death statutes allow the family of a deceased person to sue if someone’s negligent or criminal act caused the death of their loved one.

Respondeat superior/Vicarious Liability

The suit was brought against Principal Wellness under the doctrine respondeat superior. Respondeat superior “let the master answer” is a legal doctrine that holds an employer responsible for the negligent actions of employees if they were performed in the course of their employment.

The lawsuit claimed that Principal Wellness was negligent in hiring training, supervising and entrusting Ehle with the company’s van. The plaintiff claimed that Principal Wellness failed to properly screen Ehle for employment. Had they screened her for her past driving record, they would have found that she had four previous moving violations including two for speeding, one for failing to stop for a school bus and one for being involved in an accident. In addition, she was cited once for speeding while driving a Principal Wellness van.

The plaintiff also claimed that Ehle was not properly trained in driving a 15-passenger van. 15 passenger vans are larger than most passenger vehicles and can be a challenge for inexperienced driver around corners, backing up and performing other maneuvers.

Contact a King County Bus Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or disabled in a Seattle or Tacoma bus accident, The Farber Law Group is here to help. We have represented seriously injured victims of motor vehicle and bus accidents and families with their wrongful death claims for more than 30 years.  Herbert Farber, founder of The Farber Law Group, is A/V-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system.

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 at 1-800-244-9087. We provide a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case consultation.

Citation: Brown v. Principal Wellness Co., No. D1-GN-10-001449 (Tex., Travis Co. Jud. Dist. Feb. 10, 2012).

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