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Pizza Hut sued over Kansas delivery driver’s hit-and-run

Some workers who require vehicles to perform their jobs can be under a lot of employer pressure. Cross-country truck drivers may be your first thought, but there are plenty of Kansas occupations where driving for a living is a necessity. One thing these employees all have in common is a deadline like a sales call, a pickup or a delivery.

Pizza Hut of Southeast Kansas Inc. and one of its pizza delivery drivers are targets of a negligence lawsuit. The plaintiffs are the widow and daughter of a Wichita doctor, who died two years ago while jogging near the family's home. The 65-year-old pediatrician was struck and killed by a Ford Mustang, driven by the Pizza Hut driver.

The 25-year-old delivery driver took off after the fatal accident, but surrendered to authorities the next day. The Park City man pleaded guilty to leaving an accident scene, a felony charge, and was placed on probation. Abandoning the victim wasn't the only complaint in the civil case.

The doctor's family alleged the driver was on a pizza delivery run at the time of the fatality and was distracted, possibly by texting. The legal claim stated that the employer knew or should have anticipated the driver would use a cellphone or text. Pizza Hut is blamed for failing to train the driver and supervise his activities.

The defendants' attorney disputed the plaintiffs' claims. The lawyer turned the tables and claimed the victim or another party was at fault for the collision. Although the doctor was an older man, his widow said he was very active in his practice and in training for an upcoming race.

Employers are not only responsible for safeguarding employees. Pittsburg businesses also must hire and train competent drivers and set standards for safe driving practices. When an employer's policies don't emphasize safety, the business may be liable for accidents a driver causes.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Lawsuit argues pizza driver, his employer were negligent in doctor’s death" Tim Potter, Apr. 12, 2014

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