Personal Injury Lawyers in Manassas – Negligent training

A Carluzzo Rochkind & Smith note:   Following is an excellent article by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.  We did not handle this case, but it brings up important points your personal injury lawyers should be familiar with. For more than 30 years our personal injury lawyers in Manassas have helped clients with such matters in Prince William County, Fairfax County, Woodbridge, and throughout Northern Virginia. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our law firm at (703) 361-0776.

Claims narrowed in auto accident suit

By Virginia Lawyers Weekly – 3/11/2024

Where a man sued a company for negligent hiring, negligent retention and negligent training, after its driver was involved in a serious automobile accident, but there were no facts supporting these claims, they were dismissed.


This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident. The second amended complaint, or SAC, alleges that Jaime Antonio Flores Landaverde sustained personal injuries as a passenger in a vehicle operated by Jose Lopez.

Chris A. Milne, as Landaverde’s special conservator, alleges that Lopez fell asleep and struck a tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder of Interstate 81 that was being operated by Joshua Flores on behalf of Move Freight Trucking LLC, or MFT. The SAC alternatively that Flores was an employee of MFT, FedEx Ground Package System Inc. or Western Express Inc. The SAC also alleges negligent entrustment against the owners of the vehicle. FedEx Ground, Western Express, MFT and one of the owners (Lopez-Alberto) have filed motions to dismiss


Under Virginia law, a claim of negligent entrustment requires that “the owner knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that he was entrusting his car to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others.” The SAC fails to allege any facts from which a plausible claim of negligent entrustment may lie. As such, the SAC fails to state a plausible claim of negligent entrustment against Lopez-Alberto. Nor are there sufficient facts alleged to establish personal jurisdiction over Lopez-Alberto in Virginia.


The SAC alleges that MFT “was negligent in connection with hiring, qualifying, training, entrusting, supervising and/or retaining of Defendant Flores.” There are no facts alleged that MFT had knew or had reason to know that hiring Flores as truck driver posed an unreasonable risk of harm to others. As such, the facts alleged fail to state a claim for negligent hiring. Likewise, these facts do not support a claim for negligent retention. The SAC alleges no facts that MFT knew or had reason to know that retaining Flores as a truck driver was dangerous and likely to harm others.

Next, Virginia law does not recognize independent tort claims for negligent supervision or training. Even if Virginia law recognized such a claim, the SAC contains no facts to support the conclusory allegation that MFT was somehow deficient in its supervision or training of Flores. Finally, while the SAC also alleges that MFT was negligent in “qualifying” Flores, no facts are alleged to provide context or factual support for this conclusory allegation.

Western Express and FedEx Ground

Western Express and FedEx Ground argue that Milne has not alleged facts sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over them as the mere broker and shipper of the freight being hauled by MFT and Flores. Given the allegations in the SAC that Western Express and FedEx Ground employed Flores and controlled his activities, the issue of personal jurisdiction requires factual development. The defendants can raise this issue again following completion of a period of limited discovery.

Western Express and FedEx Ground seek dismissal of all negligence claims against them. Milne expressly alleges that Western Express and FedEx Ground employed Flores and that his action in parking the tractor-trailer on the shoulder of Interstate 81 was within the scope of his employment. Likewise, he alleges that Western Express and FedEx Ground “knew or should have known that MFT and Flores had histories of non-compliance with safe driving practices, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and other trucking regulations, trucking industry standards, and other violations.” At this early stage in the proceeding, these claims survive.

Western Express and FedEx Ground argue that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act expressly preempts state negligence claims against motor carriers and brokers. This court agrees that, regardless of whether the preemption provision covers Milne’s negligence claims against FedEx Ground and Western Express, the safety exclusion shields such claims from preemption because they fall squarely within the “safety regulatory authority of a State with respect to motor vehicles.”

Finally, while Western Express and FedEx Ground assert that the court should dismiss the request for punitive damages in Count 14, “punitive damages is not a ‘cause of action’ subject to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6).”

Lopez-Alberto’s motion to dismiss granted. MFT’s motion to dismiss granted. Western Express’ and FedEx Ground’s motions to dismiss denied in part and deferred in part.

Milne v. Move Freight Trucking LLC, Case No. 7:23-cv-432, Feb. 20, 2024. WDVA at Roanoke (Urbanski). VLW 024-3-086. 19 pp.

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