Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Baird v. Shagdarsuren

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

January 14, 2020

KEVIN L. BAIRD, Plaintiff,
v.
OTGONBAATAR SHAGDARSUREN & DBN CARRIER, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 88) against Plaintiff Kevin Baird. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the motion.

         I.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         A. Plaintiff's Accident with Defendant Shagdarsuren

         This case arises from a collision between a car and tractor-trailer. Plaintiff Kevin Baird alleges that in November of 2015, he and Defendant Otgonbaatar Shagdarsuren were driving on a service road, when Defendant Shagdarsuren made a right-hand turn with his tractor-trailer from the middle lane and collided with Plaintiff's car. Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ¶ 6.[2]

         Defendant Shagdarsuren explains that he was exiting from the freeway and needed to turn right, but he was unable to switch into the right lane due to the amount of cars on the frontage road. Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 40 (Shagdarsuren's Dep.). Thus, he instead attempted to turn from the middle[3] lane. See Id. at 39-40. At this point, Plaintiff was planning to pass Defendant Shagdarsuren's tractor-trailer by driving in the right-hand lane. See Id. at 13-14 (Baird's Dep.). Defendant Shagdarsuren contends that he thought he could make the turn before Plaintiff's car passed him on the right. See Id. at 36-37 (Shagdarsuren's Dep.). But, as Plaintiff explains, Defendant Shagdarsuren “turn[ed] right into [him]” and never signaled that he was turning. Id. at 13-14 (Baird's Dep.).

         The officer responding to the accident filled out a police report, and he identified one “[c]ontributing factor” to the accident: Defendant Shagdarsuren performed a lane change when it was unsafe to do so. See Id. at 3, 8 (Crash Report and Crash Report Code Sheet). The officer also noted two additional potential contributing factors: distraction in Defendant Shagdarsuren's vehicle and Defendant Shagdarsuren's inattention. Id.

         During the accident, Plaintiff contends, Defendant Shagdarsuren was acting as an employee-driver for Defendant DBN Carrier, Inc. Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ¶ 7. Defendant Shagdarsuren admits that on the day of the accident, he inaccurately logged his hours of driving for Defendant DBN by one-and-a-half hours. Doc. 97-1, Pl.'s App., 142 (Shagdarsuren's Dep.). Further, he admits that his driving log was inaccurate by four hours on the day before the incident. See Id. at 147.

         Additionally, Defendant Shagdarsuren did not disclose the accident to Defendant DBN for nearly two weeks. Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 75 (Lkhamsuren's Dep.). And following the accident, Defendant Shagdarsuren failed to take a drug test, though he knew that he was supposed to. Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ¶ 10; Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 40-41 (Shagdarsuren's Dep.). He was ultimately fired from Defendant DBN in January of 2016. Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 76 (Lkhamsuren's Dep.). Moreover, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Defendant DBN for Defendant Shagdarsuren's failure to take the post-accident, drug-and-alcohol test, as well as for Defendant DBN's failure to properly maintain their driver qualification files. Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ¶ 11; Doc. 97-1, Pl.'s App., 251-53 (DOT Penalty Notice).

         B. Defendant Shagdarsuren's Driving Background

         Prior to his employment with Defendant DBN, Defendant Shagdarsuren lived in Mongolia, where he drove a box truck for approximately six years. Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 31-32 (Shagdarsuren's Dep.). Upon moving to the United States in 2003, Defendant Shagdarsuren drove only a passenger car until 2014. Id. at 32. In June of 2014, Defendant Shagdarsuren obtained a California commercial driver's license upon attending a two-to-three week training. Id. at 27-28; 47 (Shagdarsuren's Driving Record).

         Defendant DBN hired Defendant Shagdarsuren in September of 2014. Doc. 97-1, Pl.'s App., 47 (Lkhamsuren's Dep.). Though Defendant DBN conducted a driving test for Defendant Shagdarsuren before hiring him, he received only checkmarks for each driving category-not ratings, as called for on the test form. See Id. at 277 (Shagdarsuren's Road Test). Further, the test form is blank with respect to the examiner's name and the type of equipment used for the test. See Id. While Defendant DBN's President, Bayasgalan Lkhamsuren, [4] indicates that she believes the form was completed by her brother-in-law, a then-employee for Defendant DBN, see id. at 16, 49 (Lkhamsuren's Dep.), her brother-in-law states that the signature on the form is not his. Id. at 292 (Batulzil's Dep.). Likewise, he denies signing Defendant Shagdarsuren's Certificate of Driver's Road Test. Id. at 293.

         Aside from the accident with Plaintiff, Defendant Shagdarsuren has two driving violations on his California driving record. See Doc. 90-1, Defs.' App., 47 (Shagdarsuren's Driving Record). The first was his failure to stop at a stop sign in October of 2013, for which he received a ticket. Id. The second was an accident that took place in December of 2014. Id. Defendants characterize the accident as a “minor fender-bender, ” and Plaintiff does not suggest otherwise. Doc. 89, Defs.' Br., 14; see generally Doc. 96, Pl.'s Resp.

         C. Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendants Shagdarsuren and DBN

         Now, Plaintiff seeks to recover damages incurred as a result of the accident with Defendant Shagdarsuren. See Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., ¶ 16. Plaintiff brings the following causes of action: (1) negligence and gross negligence against Defendants Shagdarsuren and DBN based on Defendant Shagdarsuren's actions; and (2) negligent and grossly negligent entrustment, hiring, retention, supervision, [5] and training against Defendant DBN. Doc. 32, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl., 3-5. Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims except the negligence claim premised on Defendant Shagdarsuren's actions. See Doc. 89, Defs.' Br., 8-22.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). The substantive law governing a matter determines which facts are material to a case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The summary-judgment movant bears the burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Latimer v. Smithkline & French Labs., 919 F.2d 301, 303 (5th Cir.1990). Usually, this requires the movant to identify “those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quotation marks omitted). But if the non-movant ultimately bears the burden of proof at trial, the summary-judgment movant may satisfy its burden by pointing to the mere absence of evidence supporting an essential element of the non-movant's claim. See Austin v. Kroger Tex., L.P., 864 F.3d 326, 335 n.10 (5th Cir. 2017).

         Once the summary-judgment movant has met this burden, the burden shifts to the non-movant to “go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts” showing that a genuine issue exists. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994) (per curiam) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). “This burden is not satisfied with ‘some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,' by ‘conclusory allegations,' by ‘unsubstantiated assertions,' or by only a ‘scintilla' of evidence.” Id. (citations omitted). Instead, the non-moving party must “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quotation marks omitted). “[C]ourts are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (alterations incorporated and quotations marks omitted). But the court need not “sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment.” Ragas v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir.1998) (citation and quotation marks omitted). If the non-movant is unable to make the required showing, the court must grant summary judgment. Little, 37 F.3d at 1076.

         III.

         ANALYSIS

         Defendants assert that Plaintiff lacks evidence to support his: (1) gross negligence claim against Defendant Shagdarsuren based on Defendant Shagdarsuren's actions; (2) gross negligence claim against Defendant DBN based on Defendant Shagdarsuren's actions; and (3) negligent and grossly negligent entrustment, hiring, retention, and training claims against Defendant DBN. See Doc. 89, Defs.' Br., 8-22. Below, the Court addresses the merits of Defendants' motion as to each claim. Ultimately, the Court concludes that summary judgment in Defendants' favor is warranted as to all claims except Plaintiff's negligent training claim against Defendant DBN.

         A. Gross Negligence Claim Against Defendant Shagdarsuren Based on His Actions

         Plaintiff has not raised a genuine dispute of material fact regarding Defendant Shagdarsuren's gross negligence. Under Texas law, exemplary damages are only available when a claimant proves by clear-and-convincing evidence that the harm suffered is the result of fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.003(a). The clear-and-convincing evidence standard controls at the summary-judgment stage, meaning that a plaintiff alleging gross negligence must offer “evidence that is ‘sufficient to make the existence of the facts highly probable,' not merely evidence that is ‘sufficient to make the existence of fact more probable than not . . . .'” Partida Aranda v. YRC Inc., 2019 WL 2357528, at *3 (N.D. Tex. June 4, 2019) (citations omitted).

         Texas law defines gross negligence as:

“an act or omission (1) which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and (2) of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”

Baker v. BNSF Ry. Co., 2010 WL 4063203, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 13, 2010) (quoting Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.001(11)). “Circumstantial evidence is sufficient to prove either element.” Lee Lewis Constr., Inc. v. Harrison, 70 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.