Scala v. FedEx Freight, Inc., U.S.D.C, Mass., 264 F. Supp. 3d 352, 2017 U.S. Dist. Lexis 143770

Know thy corporation’s logos, colors and location.

The plaintiff suffered serious injuries caused by a chunk of ice that crashed through the windshield of his car. He alleged the ice came from a FedEx tractor-trailer; therefore, his injuries were caused by FedEx’s negligence.

The plaintiff recalled seeing a white tractor-trailer in the vicinity, but he was unsure whether he saw it prior to or following the incident. Another driver, a few yards behind the plaintiff prior to the accident, saw snow and large sheets of ice coming off a tractor-trailer with a FedEx logo on it. That driver pulled over to the side of the road to avoid the ice and saw the plaintiff’s car in a snow bank.

FedEx moved for summary judgment, relying on evidence showing no FedEx tractor-trailer could have been involved in the accident. The plaintiff relied upon correspondence from a third party administrator of FedEx, which stated that its investigation showed the vehicle involved was a FedEx freight vehicle as a basis as a material fact.

The court granted FedEx’s motion, relying upon several basis, including the following: (1) under Massachusetts law, a parent company and its subsidiaries are separate corporate entities; (2) each of the corporate and subsidiary logos have different colors; (3) a jury could not reasonably conclude the tractor-trailer involved belonged to FedEx Freight based upon Affidavits submitted by the plaintiff and FedEx, including one for the plaintiff and one for the defendant by the other driver, since no one at the scene could identify the trailer as belonging to FedEx, the word “Freight” was not identified as being on the tractor-trailer and the logo colors were not identified; (4) the correspondence of the FedEx third party administrator was not adopted by or made by FedEx; and (5) the evidence produced by FedEx from GPS units in its tractor-trailers from every truck and driver who was working out of its Vermont facility on the date of the alleged accodent, when compared to the times of various 911 calls made, showed there were no drivers in the area at that time.


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2018

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