From JDSupra, Thomas Brown discusses a case in which DoorDash was not liable for the death of a pedestrian killed by an independent contractor DoorDash driver whil making a food delivery. Thomas writes:
The parents of a pedestrian brought an action for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress against DoorDash, alleging that a delivery driver negligently struck and killed the pedestrian while making a food delivery requested through the DoorDash App.
DoorDash moved to dismiss the claims against it, asserting the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The plaintiffs conceded that the delivery driver was an independent contractor.
Generally, one who employs an independent contractor is not liable for independent contractor’s acts. Attempting to circumvent this general rule, the plaintiffs claimed DoorDash was directly liable under a non-delegable duty theory because delivering food through an online application is an ultra-hazardous or inherently dangerous activity.
The District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina rejected the plaintiffs’ argument, finding that food delivery is neither ultra hazardous nor inherently dangerous. Accordingly, the court found that DoorDash did not owe a duty to the pedestrian and granted its motion to dismiss.
This case illustrates the plaintiffs’ bar’s ongoing attempt to affix liability on technology service companies through different legal theories. It also further defines the boundaries of such liability.