Our New York Employment Lawyer has been asked to comment on the recent tragic car accident involving Bob Simon, award-winning 60 Minutes correspondent from an employment law perspective. As way of background, last week, Mr. Simon was a passenger in a livery Lincoln Town Car when he was killed in a car accident in New York City. It has been reported that Mr. Simon’s driver, Mr. Abdul Fedahi, allegedly sideswiped another car and crashed ino a metal median. Mr. Simon and Mr. Fedahi reportedly were crushed in the accident and had to be removed from the car. Mr. Simon was taken to Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital and pronounced dead and Mr. Fedahi survived and is recovering from two broken legs and a broken arm. Mr. Simon’s death was a tragedy and may have avoidable according to certain details about Mr. Fedahi’s employment reported by the media. In general, in New York, a claim for negligent hiring or negligent retention may occur when an employer places an employee in a position to cause foreseable harm, harm which the injured party would probably would have been spared had the employer taken reasonable care in supervising or retaining the employee. One of the key elements to show is that the employer knew or should have known of the employee’s propensity for conduct that caused the injury. Here, in Mr. Simon’s case, a number of items that have been reported could have raised concerns to Mr. Fedahi’s employer — below is a list of the some reported details —
1. Bob Simon was traveling in a Livery Lincoln Town Car driven by Abdul Fedahi.
2. Mr. Fedahi reportedly told the police that he blacked out after being hit.
3. Mr. Fedahi’s driver’s license had been previously suspended 9 times for failing to pay fines and he was driving on a probationary license with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
4. Mr. Fedahi had only 1 working arm, an injury that occurred after he attempted suicide and that presumably limited his ability to steer the car.
5. Mr. Fedahi’s co-workers complained about his work.
6. Mr. Fedahi was fired by the livery company but was rehired after new management came on board.
Not all of the facts have been released or are known to the public to date. Readers should not automatically assume any claim exists. Whether Mr. Simon’s estate will have a colorable claim based on a negligent hiring or negligent retention theory (separate from a wrongful death action) depends on all of the facts and circumstances and it is difficult to say at this time since information is limited. Depending the nature of the relationship with the livery company and CBS Network or another company, there could be a joint employer argument as well. If a potential claim did exist, the livery company could respond, in part, by stating that Mr. Simon reportedly was not wearing his seat belt at the time, Mr. Fedahi reportedly passed a breathalyzer and from a damages perspective, Mr. Simon’s earning potential was limited because he was 73 years old. An example of a typical negligent hiring case is when a company hires an employee as a driver when that individual has a prior criminal record of DWI convictions. The conviction in the example is directly related to the job duties and could raise a potential risk. These types of cases underscore the importance for companies to conduct thorough background checks and manage their workforce in a prudent manner. If you have any questions about negligent hiring or negligent retention, contact our award-winning New York Employment Lawyer to learn more.
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