A recent ruling by the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico in a truck accident lawsuit allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with some but not all of their causes of action, after the defendants challenged the sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ complaint.
The court’s analysis followed a tractor-trailer collision resulting in an injured driver being transported for medical treatment via emergency helicopter. Allegedly the police attributed the collision to driver inattention and following too closely, but did not specify which of the drivers was at fault. The plaintiffs sued the driver, asserting causes of action for negligence and negligence per se. In the same complaint, the plaintiffs asserted causes of action against the driver’s employer based on legal theories including respondeat superior/vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent entrustment and negligent training and supervision. After the parties had filed their pleadings and before the pretrial discovery process, the defendants challenged the sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ complaint.
When the sufficiency of a complaint is challenged so early on in the life of a personal injury case, the court is required to construe the facts set forth in the pleadings and inferences that can be drawn from the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing dismissal of the complaint. The court is to treat well-pleaded factual allegations in the pleadings of the party opposing dismissal as true, and consider whether they could establish a basis for liability.