The Sun-Sentinel reports that a Fort Lauderdale family is suing the contractors and an unlicensed forklift operator for $25 million.
70-year-old James Zakos was driving his convertible Mercedes Benz with the top down along Fort Lauderdale Beach on November 17th. A forklift being driven by 30-year-old Ulises Mondragon entered the intersection, striking Zakos’ vehicle.
The forklift’s elevated forks jutted into traffic, ripping into Zakos’ car, and pierced a portion of his brain. He was rushed to a hospital and placed on life support but was later declared dead.
While on the scene of the accident, Mondragon allegedly told police that he did not have a driver’s license, nor did he have a permit to operate heavy machinery like the forklift.
The Zakos family is now seeking $25 million, naming several contractors and Mondragon himself in the suit. The lawsuit is demanding a jury trial.
The lawsuit claims that if the contracting company had completed a simple background check on Mondragon, they would have learned that he has been fired three times for driving without a license in Palm Beach County since 2011.
Mondragon currently has an immigration hold while he is in jail for failing to get a driver’s license along with felony leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality.
There are some circumstances when a company may be liable for the negligence of its employees. A legal doctrine called “respondeat superior” or “let the superior answer” makes employers responsible for the actions of its employees. This doctrine only applies if the employee is acting within the scope of their employment. If the employee was doing their job, conducting company business, or otherwise acting on the employer’s behalf, the employer can be held liable for an accident that injures another person or causes other damages. Under the respondeat superior doctrine, the injured party mustn’t prove that the company believed the employee would cause harm, only that they were acting in fulfilling their job duties when the accident occurred.