Jeep kills mechanic after oil change

The owner of the Jeep is being sued even though he had nothing to do with the mechanics death.

My friend had a fender bender and a gawker slowed down to see and spun out and the gawker passenger got bumped so the passenger sued everyone on the road that day. 3 drivers of 3 separate cars. Judge dismissed my friend from suit.

Well this is crazy Michigan so who knows? But this is not the same as lending your car to someone. You are turning it over to qualified people for a service to be performed and it is in their care and custody. Gets damaged, stolen, catches on fire, their dime. Still can’t imagine the lifetime earnings lost is anywhere near 15 million, but have good insurance. It’s Saturday though so my armchair legal analysis may be faulty. Still I have seen some stupid lawyers that know nothing of the law. Not to mention it was a work place accident covered by workers comp.

In general workers comp insurance covers the employee and gives limited protection to the employer. Unless negligence occurred the employer cannot be successfully sued. Which is why injured parties cast a wide net hoping someone else has deep pockets and wants to settle. I am not an attorney so if my legal advice is flawed I will gladly refund your money

The description is a little confusing, but it appears the employee attempted to start the engine but it wouldn’t start b/c the clutch pedal wasn’t depressed. That’s expected, part of the clutch safety interlock. Next the employee pressed on the clutch pedal, this time it started, again as would be expected. Then for some reason they removed their foot from the clutch pedal, and it is was probably in gear, so the car moved forward. Again, seems to me that’s expected behavior.

So it’s hard for me to understand the basis of the legal complaint. Other than the fact that anything or even nothing can be the basis of a legal complain. At least in us courts. It’s sort of like someone rents a car from a rental agency, then get in an accident b/c they put it is D and stepped on the gas. But maybe in this case there is another factor, either I didn’t catch, or not mentioned.

Being sued and being SUCCESSFULLY sued are two different things.

I’ve told this story before in this forum.

"I was sitting second to turn left at a red light. The guy in front of me decided he couldn’t wait any longer and drove through the red light. I moved forward and stopped and the F-150 pickup behind me moved up also. Then I hear this bang. The woman in the car behind the F-150 pickup thought we were moving and rammed the pickup. She sued the F-150 pickup AND ME. The judge threw the case out and chastised the lawyer for bringing this frivolous case. "

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With no financial penalty, a person might well try again.

A car has an owner. An owner has insurance. And therefore a lawyer will try to extract money from owner. If Jeep would not have been involved, then owner would not be sued.

What was missing is that the kid did not know how to drive a manual. So I surmise didn’t know it was in gear. How it got on the rack then is unclear. Maybe a buddy drove it in. I think a strong case for negligence can be made. You know that old rationale that the dealer knew or should have known the kid was incompetent for the task.

Anyone can sue anyone for any reason.
But that can backfire.

I watched Michigan lawyer Steve Lehto talk about this on YouTube. The kid that wrecked the Jeep not only could not drive stick, he didn’t have a drivers license either.

How do you work as a mechanic without a drivers license?

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You don’t, not at a reputable well-managed shop. Last summer I interviewed and offered a position to a mechanic, he had even come from out of state for the interview. We extended him a job offer and as he was filling out his new hire packet he mentioned that his license was suspended for another 8 months and hoped that wouldn’t be a problem. I explained that it was a big problem as part of a technician’s job is to drive vehicles. I invited him to re-apply when he had a valid license.


Our home owner’s association has purchased insurance on the sidewalks. If someone gets hurt on the sidewalk they can now potentially go after the insurance that the home owner’s association has on it. The sidewalks belong to the city and are on city property and are maintained by the city but they pay for insurance on them anyway. Now if someone gets hurt and finds this out they’ll likely try to pursue the insurance company for money.

It doesn’t really matter who is liable. The person who has the money and can somehow be connected to the situation is who they go after.

This is essentially SOP in a liability suit such this. The plaintiff’s attorney has to sue the vehicle owner in order to get the denial of coverage and denial of liability so that he/she can then pursue secondary insurance coverages.


It’s not just a rationale. It’s a fundamental legal principle known as Respondeat Superior:

If the employee’s action is common enough for that job that the action could be fairly deemed to be characteristic of the job, then the employer will be liable for harm resulting from the employee’s actions.

In other words, the employee who screwed-up can sue his employer for the employee’s injuries. Of course, the employer can counter-sue the employee.

Respondeat Superior | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.

Were I the potential employer in this situation, I’d also worry that the suspended license might indicate the candidate isn’t a responsible person. Folks working on other people’s cars have to be super-responsible because of the safety issues involved. Can’t have someone inclinded to take short cuts working on customer cars. If they want to take short cuts, they can do that when working on their own cars.

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I should plea the 5th but back in high school at the restaurant, the boss was catering to the country club. He needed the chicken delivered and asked me if I could drive. I said sure (I’d been driving since 10). The next week, same issue and he asked me if I could drive and I said sure. Then he asked if I had a license. Being honest I said no. I was a very good driver and the place was less than a half mile away. I needed to make sure that nothing happened that would get him or me in trouble. Everything was fine and I made sure the judge didn’t see me when he was loading his plate. This was in the 60’s when people were more reasonable. He was a good guy and I was a good employee. Now it would be national news.

That’s why I sometimes think people need to be in the mental state of making sure they avoid accidents. Relying on seat belts and air bags and crushable cars shifts the focus.


You’d think — thinking? maybe this is where I’m going wrong w/this discussion … lol … — but you’d think if the employee doing the shop work wasn’t qualified to do it, that would be the end of the discussion as far as liability involving the car owner or manufacturer. Maybe there are other factors, but what they are, no idea.

IMHO the most unsafe practice I see on a daily basis as far a vehicle operation goes is distracted driving, the driver looking at their cell phone for messages, map information, etc, rather than paying complete attention to their driving and what’s going on around them.

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Actually I think the other factors are as @TheWonderful90s said to paraphrase: Anybody can sue anybody and you pick the deepest pockets and sue them all. Let the lawyers and judge fight it out. Even if innocent, lawyer fees can bankrupt you. It’s a tactic used by the feds. Plea guilty to avoid bankruptcy or the bankruptcy of family members.

Sounds like a classic bullying tactic. Speaking of bankruptcy did you hear about the famous former pro tennis player?