Broker Held Liable in $5.2 Million Negligent Hiring Lawsuit

In the last week I have been forwarded the same press release about 10 times. As the product manager for carrier selection and monitoring solutions, I get news delivered to my inbox about any topic involving brokers and negligent hiring. This time, the incident occurred in my home state.

The case in question, Linhart v Heyl Logistics, LLC et al., stemmed from a 2008 accident where a driver was apparently coming off drugs, fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of his truck. He went off the road, killing another truck driver who was inspecting his brakes on the shoulder of I-5 near Ashland, Oregon. A jury awarded damages of $5.2 million to the victim’s four adult children. The fault was assigned to the driver, Daniel Clarey, his employer Washington Transportation, and also to Heyl Logistics, the broker that provided the load.

Why was the broker included in the suit? Because the plaintiff’s attorneys successfully argued that Heyl Logistics did not perform adequate due diligence. Heyl did not notice that Washington Transportation, owned by twin brothers Eric and Forrest Rangeloff, had no operating authority or insurance at the time Heyl hired them to haul a shipment of water for Nestle Waters North America. A blog post on states that the Rangeloff brothers also shared “a checkered past as owners of 15 different trucking carriers”.

Rena Samole, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, summed up the role such judgments have in the industry: “It’s up to the courts to keep our roads safer by providing some deterrent to careless brokers”.

If you are a broker reading this, I am guessing you are deterred. Here are some ways you can avoid similar circumstances:

Choose your load board carefully. Use a reliable load board such as DAT which checks operating authority. Without current authority, companies like Washington Transportation cannot access DAT to post their trucks.

Validate and monitor carriers’ authority and insurance. Use a product like DAT CarrierWatch which monitors carrier authority and insurance. CarrierWatch users get updated authority data daily so they never have to worry about hiring a carrier whose authority has been revoked. We also get mandatory BIPD insurance information daily from the DOT and we monitor carrier insurance certificates for coverage such as Cargo, General Liability and Auto.

Beware of chameleon carriers. Search a database for chameleon carriers. The Alias Search feature in DAT CarrierWatch searches a historical database of trucking companies to show who may be using a name, phone number or address of a company that lost their authority.