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ARTICLE ID 9495

$________ Wrongful Death - minor plaintiff struck and killed by City of Tacoma refuse truck - failure of City to properly train, test and supervise employees.

PIERCE County, WASHINGTON

This action was brought by the estate of the seven-year-old decedent, who was struck and killed by a residential refuse collection truck owned by the defendant City of Tacoma. The plaintiff’s theories of liability against the defendant municipality included: failure to provide proper training, testing and supervision of employees; failure to devise and implement a safety program; failure to adopt a uniform signaling system for crews; failure to equip the refuse truck with an audible alarm system; vicarious liability for negligence of employee in violating established procedures regarding operation of the truck.

The subject accident occurred while the refuse truck operator was backing-up on a residential side street in violation of applicable City policies. The plaintiff’s evidence established that the spotter behind the truck was aware of the child’s presence to the rear of the truck, but failed to signal the driver in violation of department policies regarding backing-up procedures. The evidence further revealed that the driver moved the truck without any signal from the spotter, also in violation of department policies regarding backing procedures. The plaintiff focused on the fact that the City of Tacoma was unable to demonstrate the existence of a safety training program for new employees.

The defendant denied liability and maintained that the child’s death was an unavoidable accident. The defendant asserted that the driver of the refuse truck was faced with a sudden emergency when the child darted out into the street.

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