Important! June 12th, 2024 Webinar Attendees, please click here to complete our Survey or Verification Request Form.

Click Here

Indiana Issues Key Ruling in Trucking PI Case

Last update

at

by:

by:

Share

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Expert analysis from Reminger Law.

Guest Post by Codie Ross, Esq.
(republished with permission)

In a matter of first impression, the Indiana Supreme Court adopted the federal Savage rule in finding that a shipper was not liable for injuries sustained by a truck driver employed by a carrier, when he opened the doors of the trailer loaded by Celadon and a load of cargo fell on him.

Paul Michael Wilkes v. Celadon Group, Inc., et al., 19S-CT-564 was very recently decided and involved Plaintiff, Paul Wilkes, who was dispatched by his employer, Knight Transportation, to an Indiana Celadon warehouse to pick up a trailer filled with trays.  The molded container trays were used to house oily engine parts.  They were loaded in the trailer by a Celadon employee who had no formal training on how to distribute loads.  He simply stacked the trays on top of each other and did not secure them together. 

Wilkes looked inside the trailer and saw the stacks rising nearly to the top of its 13-foot ceiling.  He then closed and locked the doors and drove the load to North Carolina.  When he ultimately opened the trailer doors, some of the trays fell out and injured him.

Are you taking advantage of the valuable resources available through the Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group (RPG)? If not, register here and start enjoying the benefits. When your law practice has professional liability coverage through Alta Pro Insurance, you’re automatically enrolled in the RPG. Among the benefits: free, cutting-edge CLE webinars featuring top experts tackling timely topics; the Pro Practice Playbook; the Pro Practice Blog; Reminger’s ProLink risk management assistance; Reminger’s Claim Repair Hotline; discounts on CLIO practice management software; and access to the Risk Pro, who can help keep your firm safe and successful. Stay ahead of the curve with Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group.

Paul Michael Wilkes v. Celadon Group

In reaching its conclusion against Wilkes, the Indiana Supreme Court first decided to adopt the “longstanding federal common law rule” from United States v. Savage Truck Line, Inc., 209 F.2d 442, 445 (4th Cir. 1953).  The Court determined that the policy and rationale of Savage were well-founded and that the rule was consistent with Indiana law.  In essence, the Savage rule places the primary duty as to the safe loading of property upon the carrier.

After making that determination, the Court then applied the rule to the Wilkes case and found that Celadon was not liable for the alleged injuries.  The Court wrote, “Having adopted the Savage rule, we apply it to this record and consider, first, whether Celadon assumed a legal duty of safe loading.  We conclude it did.”  The Court continued.  “Second, we consider whether any alleged defect in loading was latent.  On this record, we conclude it was not and should have been apparent to Wilkes through a reasonable inspection.”  Supporting its conclusion, the Court noted that when Wilkes looked inside the trailer, he did not see anything “outlandish,” and did not argue that the lack of securing devices was not apparent.  In addition, the designated evidence showed that Wilkes did not ask about the safety or security of the load, and Celadon did not make any assurances about the trays being properly loaded.

“Wilkes had five years’ experience operating commercial motor vehicles when he picked up the trailer at Celadon,” the Court determined.  “Despite his lack of experience with these trays or this type of cargo, he did not ask Celadon if the load was secure…And, in fact, Wilkes admits that no one at Celadon told him the trays were properly loaded.”

This decision implies that Indiana will now adopt the federal common law principle that the primary duty as to the safe loading of property is upon the carrier and that the shipper will only be responsible for the safe loading of property if the defects of the loading are latent and undetectable by ordinary observation. 

If you have any questions regarding this decision or its impact on Indiana businesses, please contact a member of Trucking and Commercial Transportation Practice Group

This has been prepared for informational purposes only. It does not contain legal advice or legal opinion and should not be relied upon for individual situations. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between the Reader and Reminger. The information in this document is subject to change and the Reader should not rely on the statements in this document without first consulting legal counsel.  THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT

Want a discount on Clio practice management software products? You’re eligible if you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan and are a member of the Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. In addition to Clio discounts, you’ll get access to free webinars, the Pro Practice Playbook, Reminger ProLink, Ask the Risk Pro and more. Here’s how to join.

About the Author

Codie is a shareholder practicing in Reminger’s Fort Wayne office. He is a tested trial attorney with years of courtroom experience, and has defended clients in general casualty, professional liability, construction liability, premises liability, personal injury, and wrongful death cases. Codie’s expertise also includes bail bond and surety law, education law, and general insurance defense.

Share

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts on Altaprorpg.com!

Alta Pro Logo Icon

About the Editorial Staff

In an age of consolidation where increasingly impersonal transactions have made customer service an oxymoron, we bring together independent agents, insurance companies, and other industry specific service providers to develop and deliver insurance products and risk management solutions that benefit our insurance customers.

Join Our Newsletter

Occasional newsletters and CLE invites

Find Us on Social

Upcoming CLE Webinar: Essential Business Skills for Busy Lawyers Part 2 – Build Your Legal Practice Like a Pro

August 28, 2024 1:00 pm EST
CLE Credit: 1.0 Regular

Colleen L. Byers

Colleen Byers Mediation, LLC

Archives

Latest Videos

1 Hour

Essential Business Skills for Busy Lawyers Part 1 – Communicate Like A Pro

1 Hour

Creating an Attorney Compensation Plan That Will Build Firm Culture and Attract Top Talent

1 Hour

Cybersecurity for Attorneys: Employing Competent and Reasonable Safeguards

Need Help?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Or email us directly at info@altaprorpg.com

Or submit your issue in the comment form below and we will respond as soon as possible.