In 2015, a 50-year-old executive working in the MetroWest area was injured while traveling for work in Germany. Plaintiff was required to travel internationally on a frequent basis as part of his job duties. The case in question revolved around Plaintiff’s employer developing a relationship with a separate Massachusetts company that touted itself as one of the largest transportation companies in the world. Plaintiff needed to go to Germany to handle a business matter between his employer and the Massachusetts company. Plaintiff’s assistant contacted the Massachusetts-based transportation company and arranged to have the Plaintiff picked up from his home and brought to Logan International Airport. There was also an arrangement for a driver to pick him up at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany and bring him to his eventual destination.
The Horrific Accident Occurred On The Autobahn
Plaintiff arrived at Frankfurt Airport on September 23, 2015. Plaintiff was met by a driver with a Tesla sedan. Plaintiff was seated in the right rear passenger seat of the vehicle, but at some point during the trip, the driver of the Tesla seemed to pass out. The vehicle veered off of the Autobahn, through a fence, and across a field at a high rate of speed. Plaintiff was still seatbelted at the time and tried to lean over the front passenger seat to driving the car, but he had no access to the brake. The vehicle eventually struck a tree, which led to Plaintiff sustaining severe injuries. His injuries were so life-threading that he had to be airlifted to a German hospital and then brought back to the United States for further treatment.
Darin Colucci argued that the Massachusetts transportation company had responsibility for the incident. Attorney Colucci argued that the company should have vetted the German driver better, and it was later discovered that the driver admitted to having passed out previously. In this situation, Mr. Colucci argued that the Massachusetts transportation company had vicarious liability for the incident.
The Massachusetts transportation company denied all liability and said that the German company was only an independent contractor and that the case would have to be pursued in Germany. The transportation company in the US never answered the complaint in the Norfolk Superior Court, and instead chose to file a motion to dismiss.
Ultimately, it was discovered that the American company exerted significant control over the German company that transported the Plaintiff. Attorney Colucci was able to uncover a contract that existed between the Massachusetts transportation company and the German company that stated that the German company had to adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the American company. The contract dictated the color of the vehicle that was to be used, what the drivers had to wear, what the drivers could and could not talk about, what needed to be in the car, what time it would have to arrive at the job, how they would bill, prohibitions against tips, and more. In short, the German company drivers were certainly acting like employees of the American company.
Additionally, in accordance with the contract, if any dispute arose between the American and the German company, the German company agreed to submit to Massachusetts jurisdiction.
Just before the court was set to hear a motion to dismiss this case, the defendants in the case agreed to mediation. Plaintiff’s injuries were never in question, and the entire mediation consisted of discussing liability, choice of laws, and venue. After a full day of mediation, the defendants agreed to pay $2.5 million to Plaintiff to settle the claim.