A Michigan man who left his car in a dealership to change oil and rotate tires has been sued after his vehicle was implicated in the death of one of the dealership employees.
Sergio Enrique Diaz-Navarro took his 2019 red Wrangler to a Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership on March 13, 2020, and 19-year-old lubrication technician Daniel Thompson was working on the car. After the service was completed, the vehicle “leaned forward” as a young employee tried to steer it, crushing 42-year-old mechanic Jeffrey Hawkins against the cabinet, court records show.
Thompson lowered the Jeep from the vehicle’s crane, then tried to start the car and let it idle to ensure there was no oil leak around the filter, according to court records.
“Thompson reached into the vehicle and pressed the brake with his right foot, keeping his other foot on the floor,” the prosecutor’s summary reads. “He pressed the start button. When the vehicle did not start, he took his foot off the brake and depressed the clutch pedal. He pressed the start button again. This time the jeep started. He pulled his foot out of the clutch, still standing in front of the vehicle. The vehicle moved forward. ”
Hawkins was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, reports The Kansas City Star.
Diaz-Navarro and Thompson were sued in Michigan District Court in March 2021.
Attorney David Femminineo, who represents Hawkins’ property, told FOX 2 that Thompson did not know how to drive a manual transmission and did not have a license. The lawyer also said the agency cannot be sued for a legal standard that prevents an employee from suing his boss for negligence, which in this case would be hiring someone who should not have been driving.
Because the incident happened at work, and two employees were involved, the boss cannot be sued, notes FOX 2.
Diaz-Navarro’s lawyer told FOX 2 that he plans to fight the case at trial later this month.
“When you hand over your car to anyone, including a valet or a service person at your local dealership, it’s better that you can trust that person,” the lawyer said.
Femminineo told McClatchy News that the car owner was responsible for Hawkins’ death in the same way that someone who lent their vehicle to another person would be liable for any injuries caused by the driver. He said a person who borrows his car is responsible for negligent actions because he gave another person permission to use his vehicle.
According to a summary filed in court on March 1, the court ordered the Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership, where the incident took place, to indemnify Diaz-Navarra if found guilty of negligence.
“So, in reality, the owner will be responsible, but the insurance company pays the agency,” Femminineo told McClatchy News. He said he hoped a verdict of more than $ 15 million would be awarded.