CTC Inc v. Schneider National Inc et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 16 Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. The motion is GRANTED to the extent that this dft is DISMISSED from the negligent training, retention & supervision claims alleged in the complaint. These claims fail as a matter of law and are dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. In all other respects the motion is DENIED. The issue which remains for trial is that of the driver's negligence. If such negligence is established, dft will be liable for such negligence based on dft's stipulation. Signed by Honorable Stephen P. Friot on 6/4/2021. (llg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
-vsSCHNEIDER NATIONAL INC. and
Case No. CIV-20-1235-F
Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc. moves for dismissal from this
action under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. Doc. no. 16. Plaintiff CTC, Inc. has
responded, objecting to dismissal. Doc. no. 17. Schneider National Carriers has
filed a reply brief. Doc. no. 19.
I. Summary of the Second Amended Complaint
Plaintiff is CTC, Inc. The only remaining defendant is Schneider National
The Second Amended Complaint (doc. no. 7, hereafter “the complaint”)
alleges that defendant’s driver lost control of the tractor-trailer he was driving and
collided with plaintiff’s tractor-trailer which had become disabled and was legally
parked on the shoulder of the interstate. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. The complaint alleges
“Defendants’ driver was at all times an employee and/or agent of Defendants and
The other defendant, Schneider National, Inc., was dismissed by plaintiff on April 16, 2021. Doc.
Defendants are responsible for the actions and negligence of its driver pursuant to
the doctrine of respondeat superior and agency law.” Id. at ¶ 12. The complaint
further alleges that “Defendants were negligent in the training, retention and
supervision of its driver and was [sic] negligent per se” (id. at ¶ 13), and that “The
doctrine of res ispa [sic] loquitur is applicable, as the event was caused by the
negligence of Defendants’ driver….” Id. at ¶ 14. The complaint seeks damages in
excess of $75,000. Id. at ¶ 15.
Defendant argues the complaint fails to state a claim for relief against it.
A. Respondeat Superior
Defendant contends no facts are alleged to support liability based on the
doctrine of respondeat superior, a vicarious theory of negligence which makes
defendant liable for the negligence of its driver if negligence on the part of the driver
is established. Defendant acknowledges the complaint alleges defendant’s driver
was an employee or agent of defendant. Defendant argues, however, that nothing in
the complaint alleges or shows that defendant’s driver was acting within the scope
of his employment when the accident occurred.
The court rejects this argument for dismissal. The complaint plausibly alleges
that defendant’s driver, at the time of the accident, was acting within the scope of
his employment, and no facts are alleged which suggest otherwise. For example, the
complaint repeatedly refers to the driver who caused the accident as “Defendants’
driver.” The complaint alleges that defendant’s driver “was at all times” an
employee or agent of defendant and that this status makes defendant responsible for
its driver’s actions pursuant to doctrine of respondeat superior. And the complaint
makes clear the accident occurred while defendant’s driver was driving a trailertractor on an interstate highway.
Defendant’s argument on this issue is one small step short of frivolous. The
court easily concludes the complaint plausibly alleges a claim against the defendant
based on the doctrine of respondeat superior.
B. Negligent Training, Retention and Supervision
Defendant has stipulated that: “For purposes of this matter, SNCI admits
respondeat superior liability for any proven negligence of its employee in relation
to the accident.” Doc. no. 16, p. 8, n.1. In other words, defendant has stipulated that
if its employee is proven to have been negligent, defendant will then be vicariously
liable for that negligence pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior.
This stipulation renders the other theories of liability referred to in the
complaint—negligent training, retention and supervision—unnecessary. As stated
in Jordan v. Cates, 935 P.2d 289 (Okla. 1997), “Our holding today [that the theory
of negligent hiring and retention is not available] is limited to those situations where
the employer stipulates that liability, if any, would be under the respondeat superior
doctrine, thereby making any other theory for imposing liability on the employer
unnecessary and superfluous.”
Id. at 293 (emphasis added).
Supreme Court stepped back from this fairly all-inclusive language when it held, in
Fox v. Mize, 428 P.3d 314, 319 (Okla. 2018), that negligent entrustment claims are
not precluded.2 But Fox is largely irrelevant to the issues in this action because a
negligent entrustment claim is not alleged.3
This was not a surprise. See, Gordon v. St. James Transports, LLC, 2017 WL 10378130, *9
(W.D. Okla. Oct. 24, 2017) (Friot: “This court concludes that when the next opportunity arises,
the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hold that, at least as applied to trucking companies and their
drivers, an admission of vicarious liability will not preclude a negligent entrustment theory of
Although Fox suggests the Oklahoma Supreme Court might back further away from Jordan, so
far the Court has not done so. Numerous judges in this district have distinguished negligent
entrustment claims (as claims which, under Fox, are no longer precluded by Jordan) from claims
In short, the negligent training, retention and supervision claims are
precluded. Defendant is entitled to dismissal from these claims, and its motion will
be granted to that extent.
C. Negligence Per Se and Res Ipsa Loquitur
The motion also seeks dismissal of claims based on negligence per se and res
Negligence per se applies when courts adopt a statutory or regulatory standard
as the standard which would be expected of a reasonably prudent person. Mansfield
v. Circle K Corp., 877 P.2d 1130, 1132-33 (Okla. 1994). When courts do so, the
violation of the statute or regulation is then said to be negligence per se. Id. Thus,
unlike claims of negligent hiring or retention or supervision, negligence per se does
not go to the question of who, besides the driver, may be held liable for a breach of
the duty of care; rather, negligence per se goes to the standard of care. Accordingly,
the court rejects defendant’s argument that claims based on negligence per se should
be dismissed under the rule announced in Jordan. In addition, defendant argues
claims based on negligence per se should be dismissed because the complaint does
not identify a statute or ordinance which was violated. Discovery may shed light on
which if any statutes or regulations may be in play with respect to the alleged
accident. It would be premature to dismiss any claims based on negligence per se,
and the court declines to do so.
Res ipsa loquitur is a doctrine which permits the jury to infer negligence in
appropriate situations. Creswell v. Temple Milling Co., 499 P.2d 421, 424 (Okla.
1972). It is a rule of evidence, not a rule of pleading. Id. Thus, there are no “claims”
for negligent hiring and supervision, etc., which remain precluded. See, e.g., Sykes v. Bergerhouse,
2021 WL 966036 (W.D. Okla. Mar. 15, 2021) (Goodwin); Njuguna v. C.R. England, Inc., 2020
WL 6151567 (W.D. Okla. Oct. 20, 2020) (Russell); Sinclair v. Hembree & Hodgson Construction,
LLC, 2020 WL 3965010 (W.D. Okla. July 13, 2020) (DeGiusti); Annese v. U.S. Xpress, Inc.,
2019 WL 1246207 (W.D. Okla. Mar. 18, 2019) (Cauthron).
of res ipsa loquitur which would be subject to dismissal. Defendant’s motion
recognizes that res ipsa loquitur is a doctrine rather than a claim. Nevertheless,
defendant asks the court to determine that this doctrine cannot be employed in this
case. A ruling on this issue would be premature, and this aspect of the motion will
Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc.’s motion to dismiss is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The motion is GRANTED to the
extent that this defendant is DISMISSED from the negligent training, retention and
supervision claims alleged in the complaint. These claims fail as a matter of law and
are dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. In all other respects the motion
The issue which remains for trial is that of the driver’s negligence. If such
negligence is established, defendant will be liable for such negligence based on
IT IS SO ORDERED this 4th day of June, 2021.
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