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You could do as CA has done on L&I. Manufacturer/dealer/renter IS AUTOMATICALLY AT FAULT for making a product that COULD BE USED INCORRECTLY. Operation in violation of instructions is a defence for the violator. Making it possible is manufacturers fault.
 

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I'm curious why so many article headlines on this incident felt that it was necessary to mention the brand "JEEP" of vehicle that was involved?

It's almost as if they are blaming JEEP for the accident or negligence.

Then there are some article headlines that probably got it more accurate:

How a Michigan car owner got sued for an unlicensed mechanic accidentally killing a coworker during an oil change


The above article also provides a little more info on the accident, in that the unlicensed mechanic wasn't even inside the vehicle when it lurched forward:

"Daniel Thompson, 19, was working on Diaz-Navarro's Jeep on March 13, 2020, when the vehicle “lurched forward,” crushing 42-year-old mechanic Jeffrey Hawkins against a cabinet, according to court records.

"Thompson reached into the vehicle and pressed brake with his right foot, keeping his other foot on the floor," the court documents state. "He pressed the start button. When the vehicle did not start, he took his foot off the brake and depressed the clutch pedal. He again hit the start button. This time the Jeep started. He removed his foot from the clutch, still standing outside the vehicle. The vehicle lurched forward.""

If the unlicensed mechanic wasn't even sitting in the drivers seat, IMO, there should have been a seat safety switch that should have prevented the vehicle from starting and if there is such a switch, then maybe the vehicle (2019 Jeep Wrangler) is defective in some way and therefore the vehicle manufacturer should/could be held somewhat responsible for the death.

Another scenario would be if the mechanic took his foot off the clutch and it "lurched forward" that means that the vehicle had to be in gear, another reason for a seat safety switch that would prevent the vehicle from being put into gear, unless there was someone seated in the drivers seat.

Another article that does not mention the brand of vehicle in the headline:

Man sued for $15M over Oakland County worker's death after oil change incident

And another:


Metro Detroit Man Takes Car In For Oil Change, Worker Dies, Car Owner Gets Sued

I just don't think it was necessary to mention the brand of vehicle that was involved, in any story headline, as the same thing could have happened to a number of other vehicles, of all different brands.

If anything, put the name of the dealership or shop involved in the headline, that would be more accurate and relevant.
 
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He removed his foot from the clutch, still standing outside the vehicle. The vehicle lurched forward.""
How do you do that? It would be awkward to be standing outside the vehicle and with your right foot depress the clutch. Not to mention reaching over to press the start/stop button. Yes, one could do that, but it would be awkward. Obviously, the technician/mechanic failed to make sure the gear lever was in neutral.

I have owned manual shift vehicles and never would try to start a vehicle in that manner.
 
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How do you do that? It would be awkward to be standing outside the vehicle and with your right foot depress the clutch. Not to mention reaching over to press the start/stop button. Yes, one could do that, but it would be awkward. Obviously, the technician/mechanic failed to make sure the gear lever was in neutral.

I have owned manual shift vehicles and never would try to start a vehicle in that manner.
When I first read that, that's what I was trying to figure out, trying to imagine myself with the drivers door open, standing outside the vehicle extending a leg inside the vehicle to depress either the clutch or brake, then also reaching in to start the vehicle, all while trying to maintain my balance so that I didn't fall to the ground or inside the vehicle.

I would probably have to either grab or hold onto either the door frame, A-pillar, or roof just to keep from falling while still having only 1 foot on the ground, outside the vehicle.

But if that's what the tech did, maybe he did that "awkward" sequence of events, because he knew that he couldn't drive, or even operate, a manual trans vehicle.

I do feel somewhat sorry for the tech, in that he has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed someone. That would be terrible, and I would think about it every day.

But I also wonder what prompted him to get a job at a car dealership, and he had no operators license. Of all places to get a job, and in a service department, at some time or another, you almost have to know, or could expect, that you would have to drive a vehicle around on the property.

I don't know about these days, but when I went through high school, I took driver's ed and got my license at age 16, like everyone else did.

But on the other hand, maybe the tech didn't tell the dealership, when he was hired, that he didn't have a license, and also, maybe the dealership didn't ask that question of him.
 

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When I first read that, that's what I was trying to figure out, trying to imagine myself with the drivers door open, standing outside the vehicle extending a leg inside the vehicle to depress either the clutch or brake, then also reaching in to start the vehicle, all while trying to maintain my balance so that I didn't fall to the ground or inside the vehicle.

I would probably have to either grab or hold onto either the door frame, A-pillar, or roof just to keep from falling while still having only 1 foot on the ground, outside the vehicle.

But if that's what the tech did, maybe he did that "awkward" sequence of events, because he knew that he couldn't drive, or even operate, a manual trans vehicle.

I do feel somewhat sorry for the tech, in that he has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed someone. That would be terrible, and I would think about it every day.

But I also wonder what prompted him to get a job at a car dealership, and he had no operators license. Of all places to get a job, and in a service department, at some time or another, you almost have to know, or could expect, that you would have to drive a vehicle around on the property.

I don't know about these days, but when I went through high school, I took driver's ed and got my license at age 16, like everyone else did.

But on the other hand, maybe the tech didn't tell the dealership, when he was hired, that he didn't have a license, and also, maybe the dealership didn't ask that question of him.
You don't need a license to drive on private property. So unless the wheels hit the street, he doesn't need a license to move vehicles around the lot and in and out of the service bays.
 
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You don't need a license to drive on private property. So unless the wheels hit the street, he doesn't need a license to move vehicles around the lot and in and out of the service bays.
I don't know if that's 100% true, everywhere.

I find differing info on private property, that is open to the public.
 

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I don't know about these days, but when I went through high school, I took driver's ed and got my license at age 16, like everyone else did.
Here in VA, it is not as easy to get a driver's license as a minor as it once was. In my day, you could get a learner's permit at 15 years 8 months - just had to pass the written exam and vision test - no driver's ed required. The behind-the-wheel test could be taken at age 16 and consisted of 4 stops signs, 4 right turns and then parking. At that point you were issued a 90-day license and had to appear before a judge to receive your permanent license (after a lecture from the judge).

Several years ago, all that changed. Those under 19 seeking their driver's license must undergo driver's education class (36 hours of instruction) and behind-the-wheel training with an instructor. Applicants must be 15 years 5 months and cannot receive their license until they are 16 years 3 months of age. Must have had their learner's permit for 9 months. Also have to document 40 hours of driving - 10 of which must be at night. Upon passing the behind-the-wheel test (more extensive than it was) the student receives a 90-day license, and the student and parent/guardian must appear before a judge to receive their permanent license. My children all had to go through this process to receive their license and none were 16 by the time they received it.
But on the other hand, maybe the tech didn't tell the dealership, when he was hired, that he didn't have a license, and also, maybe the dealership didn't ask that question of him.
Depending on the state, employers are prohibited by law from asking certain questions in the interview process. For example, they cannot ask if you have a car. They can, however, ask if you have reliable transportation. A bus, taxi, Uber, and walking are considered reliable forms of transportation.

And as Bob pointed out, a license is not required when operating a vehicle on private property - only public roads.
 

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But I also wonder what prompted him to get a job at a car dealership, and he had no operators license. Of all places to get a job, and in a service department, at some time or another, you almost have to know, or could expect, that you would have to drive a vehicle around on the property.
You do not need a driver's license to operate a vehicle on private property. It might (and probably should be) a requirement of employment for this job but that would be a corporate decision, not a law most likely.
 

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Why name Jeep?

1) One of the few vehicles left with a manual transmission
2) One of a few vehicles that might not have a door on making it possible to start standing outside.
3) It was a Jeep.
 

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I would think just for insurance purposes there would be a driver license required to drive & move the vehicles. If that is part of the employee's duties.
Seems like no insurance company will insure accidents caused by non-licensed drivers, private property or not.
So in my mind the Company opened the door to a lawsuit by letting a non licensed driver under their employ move the vehicle ... I believe ignorance is no excuse applies here, if the company did not verify the license. Companies I have worked for in the past had a copy of my license on file for their records.

What I can not understand is how the company is not being held responsible because of some loophole in the law? .... scratches head.
 

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Here in VA, it is not as easy to get a driver's license as a minor as it once was. In my day, you could get a learner's permit at 15 years 8 months - just had to pass the written exam and vision test - no driver's ed required. The behind-the-wheel test could be taken at age 16 and consisted of 4 stops signs, 4 right turns and then parking. At that point you were issued a 90-day license and had to appear before a judge to receive your permanent license (after a lecture from the judge).

Several years ago, all that changed. Those under 19 seeking their driver's license must undergo driver's education class (36 hours of instruction) and behind-the-wheel training with an instructor. Applicants must be 15 years 5 months and cannot receive their license until they are 16 years 3 months of age. Must have had their learner's permit for 9 months. Also have to document 40 hours of driving - 10 of which must be at night. Upon passing the behind-the-wheel test (more extensive than it was) the student receives a 90-day license, and the student and parent/guardian must appear before a judge to receive their permanent license. My children all had to go through this process to receive their license and none were 16 by the time they received it.

Depending on the state, employers are prohibited by law from asking certain questions in the interview process. For example, they cannot ask if you have a car. They can, however, ask if you have reliable transportation. A bus, taxi, Uber, and walking are considered reliable forms of transportation.

And as Bob pointed out, a license is not required when operating a vehicle on private property - only public roads.
But why would any property/business owner ever take a chance on someone that does not have an operator's license, especially when there is a chance that they may be operating vehicles on property or in a business that you own?

That would open up and expose the property/business owner to all kinds of liability issues, because they would basically be accepting and insuring any and all behavior and activities of that individual that may have no idea of how to operate a moving piece of equipment.

Just make the possession of a valid operator's license a condition of employment, they could certainly do that.

And even though the dealership insurance company will be the one covering any payout, the dealership's insurance rates are most likely to go up, or possibly get dropped completely by the current insurance company, and then the owner has to try to find another company for insurance.

Besides the insurance payout, look at all the negative (free) publicity that the dealership has received over this accident and lawsuit against the vehicle owner.

Because of the insurance payout, certain rise in any future insurance that they will have to get and possible loss of future business due to the lawsuit, I wouldn't be surprised if this dealership goes out of business within a few years.
 

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Why name Jeep?

1) One of the few vehicles left with a manual transmission
2) One of a few vehicles that might not have a door on making it possible to start standing outside.
3) It was a Jeep.
While those may be some good points, I don't blame the vehicle, it didn't do anything wrong, except be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
 

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That would open up and expose the property/business owner to all kinds of liability issues, because they would basically be accepting and insuring any and all behavior and activities of that individual that may have no idea of how to operate a moving piece of equipment.
Except according to the state law, the employer cannot be held liable by the employee or his heirs. There may be other liabilities. I am not sure. The dealership certainly took that risk.

Whether the employee had a driver's license or not doesn't seem to matter in this case. He clearly did not know how to operate a manual. Many drivers who are licensed do not have a clue how to operate a manual - my wife is one of those. Many decades ago, some states issued licenses based on whether the individual could drive a manual or not. If licensed to drive a manual, then it was assumed they could operate a vehicle with an automatic transmission, but not vice-versa. If they had a license to operate an automatic then legally, they could not operate a vehicle with a manual.

Just make the possession of a valid operator's license a condition of employment, they could certainly do that.
We don't know if a license was a prerequisite for the position. Maybe the employee lied. Who knows? Even then, all the employer could do is fire him for lying on the application. It isn't a crime.

And even though the dealership insurance company will be the one covering any payout, the dealership's insurance rates are most likely to go up, or possibly get dropped completely by the current insurance company, and then the owner has to try to find another company for insurance.
That's the risk the dealership takes.
 
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Why name Jeep?

1) One of the few vehicles left with a manual transmission
2) One of a few vehicles that might not have a door on making it possible to start standing outside.
3) It was a Jeep.
I'm going with #3. BMW, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Dodge, and VW all still make cars with manual transmissions, and I'm sure that's not a full list.
 

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While I did not learn on a true manual (50 Chrysler w/M6), I was fully able to drive one by the time I received my license. With today's restrictions on them, they should be extremely hard to screw up that bad.
 

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Except according to the state law, the employer cannot be held liable by the employee or his heirs. There may be other liabilities. I am not sure. The dealership certainly took that risk.

Whether the employee had a driver's license or not doesn't seem to matter in this case. He clearly did not know how to operate a manual. Many drivers who are licensed do not have a clue how to operate a manual - my wife is one of those. Many decades ago, some states issued licenses based on whether the individual could drive a manual or not. If licensed to drive a manual, then it was assumed they could operate a vehicle with an automatic transmission, but not vice-versa. If they had a license to operate an automatic then legally, they could not operate a vehicle with a manual.

We don't know if a license was a prerequisite for the position. Maybe the employee lied. Who knows? Even then, all the employer could do is fire him for lying on the application. It isn't a crime.

That's the risk the dealership takes.
That would be employee-to-employee and employee-to-employer and they (owners) may feel "comfortable" in that they have that protection.

But if I owned the property or business, I would do everything possible to limit my liability to any issues, especially when you invite the public onto your premises and into your business.

That dealership has 2 job listings on Indeed and only for 1 does it say that a drivers license is preferred.

My local CDJR dealership has 20 job listings on Indeed, and all except 1 says that a drivers license is required for the position and some of the positions are inside desk jobs, which that employee will probably never get in contact with a customers vehicle, but they still require a drivers license. Maybe their job applicant standards are a little higher than some other places.

The dealership involved in the accident says on their Indeed listing: "This is a family owned dealership for 50 years."

Maybe it's time for them to sell out and become part of a national dealership organization, like so many others have done.
 
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