SAN DIEGO (KGTV and CNS) - A judge Thursday approved a motion adding new claims to a wrongful death lawsuit in the case of a woman who was fatally struck in La Jolla by an armored truck driver two years ago.
The suit against Garda CL West and their driver alleges the company knew that the driver was unfit and inexperienced to drive armored trucks, yet continued to employ him up to the day he fatally struck Mikaela Jones, 22, on April 17, 2018 in the parking lot of the La Jolla Village Square shopping center.
“The guard driver testified that he saw Michaela before he struck her," Jones family lawyer, Robert Glassman said. "But because he was going around the turn too fast, he didn’t have time to stop, and even after he knocked her down the first time, he kept going.”
The suit also lists La Jolla Village Square as a defendant. They claim the shopping center did not have adequate safety signs for pedestrians.
Thursday's grant of the plaintiff's motion added a negligent entrustment cause of action against Garda in the lawsuit that was originally filed a year ago, meaning the company is being accused of employing the driver, despite him being unfit to drive.
"This is a man who should’ve never been driving this armored vehicle that weighs in excess of 10,000 pounds," Glassman said.
Glassman argues in court papers that Garda hired the driver, despite the fact he had no experience driving armored trucks, and only provided him two to four hours of training on the day he was hired before sending him out on the road.
“This was a person who just prior to being hired by Garda, was pulled over and convicted of a speeding violation," Glassman told 10News. "They knew about that, nonetheless they still hired him anyway. Within 19 days of being hired by this company, he got into his first crash, also in a parking lot.“
He ran over Jones about seven months later, court documents state. Though he was put on a 30-day suspension and never worked for Garda again, Jones' attorneys cited a recent deposition of the driver's supervisor, in which he stated that he was not concerned about the driver's driving ability, even after the fatal crash. According to Glassman, the supervisor remains in the same position at Garda.
"Simply put, despite Garda knowing about the driver's checkered driving history, particularly through high-pedestrian and family areas, culminating when he ran over Mikaela Jones on April 17, 2018, Garda buried its head in the sand and feigned complete ignorance about this man's competency and fitness to operate an armored truck,'' according to the suit.
The complaint also alleges the driver sped up, rather than slow down when he came around a curve in the parking lot and struck Jones.
10News contacted parent company, GARDAWORLD. Their Communications team sent a statement that read:
“As this matter is currently before the courts, we will not provide any comment.”
Trial is currently set for April 10.