Florida Appeals Court: Domino’s Liable For Driver-Related Death

On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal for the Fifth District upheld an $8 million judgment against Domino’s after one of the company’s employees caused a crash that killed a retired firefighter in 2011.

Law 360 reports that a jury handed down the original verdict in June 2019, holding Domino’s responsible for a crash caused by the company’s driver Jeffrey Kidd. Kidd had been waiting at an intersection in Brevard County when he pulled out in front of a pickup truck that Richard Wiederhold was driving. Wiederhold, a retired fire chief, swerved to avoid Kidd, rolling his truck. 

The crash left Wiederhold quadriplegic. He later died from a pulmonary embolism that resulted from his quadriplegia. Wiederhold’s widow Yvonne, who had been with him during the crash, sued Domino’s for her husband’s death. 

One of the key questions at trial was whether Domino’s had control over the running of the business that employed Kidd. At the time of the crash, Kidd was employed by Fischler Enterprises of C.F. Inc., a franchisee of Domino’s.

The appeals court sided with Mrs. Wiederhold, holding that Domino’s did have significant control over Fischler’s operations. Judge Jay P. Cohen noted that “Mrs. Wiederhold offered substantial evidence in support of her position that Domino’s control went beyond brand maintenance or franchise support, and instead, controlled the day-to-day affairs of the Fischler franchise in the making and delivery of pizza.”

The decision affirmed the $9 million verdict for Mrs. Wiederhold, $1 million against Fischler Enterprises of C.F. Inc.(which was reached in a settlement), and $8 million against Domino’s.

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