Can a Claim be Made Against the Trucking Company that Employed Michael Jayne?
The recent death of Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser on May , 2024, has been widely been reported on by local and national media, including a recent article by KSL News The actions of the accused driver of the semi truck, Michael Aaron Jayne, as recounted by scene witnesses, show a man who intended grave bodily harm to Officer Hooser and others at the scene of the police encounter. We learned at Jayne’s first formal appearance since he was charged that he was working for a company at the time of the vehicular assault. But what role does the employer of Jayne play in this?
As an attorney who brings cases against negligent truck drivers and the companies that employ them, I wonder how in the world could a driver with a history such as Mr. Jayne’s ever be employed by a responsible transportation company? Jayne, after all, was convicted in 2010 of attempted assault in the first degree for doing the exact same thing that happened in this case in Oregon. See story here. In reviewing some of the comments to the many articles out there, I see I’m not alone in wondering this.
The reality is that trucking companies are required to make sure that drivers they hire meet certain minimum, federal requirements, including checking into their drivers’ background, past employment, and driving history (as well as other requirements). As Jayne’s prior conviction was a matter of public record, the company he was working for at the time of the incident, knew or should have known that Jayne had previously tried to kill someone with his vehicle.

In my experience, companies that hire drivers with known, checkered driving and criminal histories, hire them because they know they can pay them less precisely because of that checkered history. Less responsible companies see it as a win-win for the company and their sketchy driver: they get a driver they can overwork and pay lower wages to, and the driver gets a paying job with no questions asked. The loser in this scenario, however, is the motoring public, and in this case, law enforcement officer(s) who are trying to protect the public.

Given what appears to be the company’s negligence in hiring Jayne, I would encourage the family to look into bringing a claim against the company that employed him. This man should never have been trusted to drive an 80,000-pound tractor trailer that could inflict death and mayhem on the motoring public. In my opinion, the company gambled that nothing would go wrong, sort of like gambling in a game of Russian roulette that the chamber is empty. Their gamble failed, and they need to answer for this officer’s death and others who may have been injured during this person’s eventual apprehension.
The opinions above are those of Ron Kramer, a trucking lawyer licensed to practice in Utah, Nevada and Idaho.

Published On: May 18th, 2024 / Categories: KSL News /

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Ron Kramer a licensed attorney in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada.

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