United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division
OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA SULLIVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case concerns a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 84.
Plaintiff Norman Poe, an employee of third-party defendant
Swift Transportation Company of Arizona
(“Swift”), has brought a negligence action
against another trucker, defendant Ryan Cook, and his
employer, Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. (“Old
Dominion”). Compl. (Docket No. 1). Defendants have
filed a Third-Party Complaint against Swift and another Swift
employee, Zakee Watson, a trucker trainee under Poe's
supervision. Ans. (Docket No. 14). Plaintiff has moved for
partial summary judgment on two of defendants'
affirmative defenses. (Docket No. 43). Defendants oppose.
(Docket No. 44). The Court heard oral argument on May 22,
2019 (Docket Nos. 55, 61), after which it received
supplemental briefing (Docket Nos. 58-60, 65). For the following
reasons, the Court DENIES plaintiff's Motion for Partial
plaintiff's Motion considers the viability of
defendants' affirmative defenses as a matter of law, and
does not dispute the facts or evidence underlying them, the
Court lays out the following facts, which the parties have
largely agreed upon in their submissions (Docket Nos. 1, 14,
43, 44, 49, 51, 58-60), as background to its analysis of the
legal questions presented.
January 17, 2015, Ryan Cook was driving an Old Dominion
semi-truck, pulling two trailers, driving eastbound on
Interstate 84 near Baker City, Oregon. Compl. ¶ 6. Cook
was an Old Dominion employee. Id. Behind Cook's
truck, Zakee Watson was driving a Swift semi-truck/trailer
combination, in which Norman Poe, Watson's trainer, was a
passenger. Ans. ¶ 3. Watson, a trainee, and Poe were
Swift employees. Id.
conditions were hazardous that day due to dense fog and ice.
Compl. ¶ 7. Cook lost control of the semi-truck/trailer
and it jackknifed, blocking the highway's eastbound lane.
Id. ¶ 8. Watson's truck collided with
Cook's. Id. Several other semi-trucks then
struck Watson and Poe's truck. Def. Opp'n, at 3
(Docket No. 49). Poe was seriously injured. Compl. ¶ 11.
Because Poe's injuries occurred during the course of his
employment, he was covered by and received benefits from
Swift's workers' compensation. Pl. MPSJ, at 2 (Docket
their Answer, defendants state three affirmative defenses,
reallege paragraphs 1-4 of their answer and further allege
that, at all material times, plaintiff Poe was employed by
Swift Transportation as a driver/trainer and supervised Swift
Transportation employee Watson, a driver/trainee. Plaintiff
Poe was aware of the adverse weather and road conditions in
sufficient time to prevent the Swift Transportation
semi-truck and trailer from colliding with the [Old Dominion]
trailer(s). Any injuries and damages he sustained were caused
by his own negligence in one or more of the following ways:
a) In failing to instruct trainee Watson to slow down
sufficiently to bring the Swift Transportation
tractor-trailer to a stop before the collision;
b) In failing to instruct trainee Watson to promptly pull the
Swift Transportation tractor-trailer over to the shoulder of
the road prior to the collision;
c) In failing to instruct trainee Watson to refrain from
down-shifting the Swift Transportation tractor-trailer
instead of applying its brakes, resulting in the collision
with the [Old Dominion] trailer(s);
d) In failing to secure himself with a safety harness once he
was aware of the adverse ...