Driver Involved In Fatal Crash With Bob Simon Was Driving With Only One Workable Arm, A Conditional License, Nine Prior Suspensions, And A Long Record Of Complaints

259E713100000578-2952471-image-m-53_1423848886260There could be a substantial torts lawsuit that comes out of the tragic death of veteran journalist Bob Simon in a car crash in New York. The driver, Abdul Reshad Fedahi, who had only one working arm after a suicide attempt, had been suspended nine times and was the source of complaints from other drivers about his erratic driving. Simon, 73, was driving in a Lincoln Town car that Fedahi, 44, crashed after grazing a Mercedes-Benz C30 in the center lane and crashing into metal poles last Wednesday.

Fedahi suffered two broken legs and a broken arm in the accident. He reportedly told police that he blacked out after being hit from behind.

Simon was not wearing a seatbelt, a common problem with passengers in taxis or car services. Simon and Fedahi both had to be cut out of the car.

Fedahi is an Afghan immigrant who previously tried to throw himself off a building. He had nine prior suspensions.

Fedahi has been fired by the company but was then rehired when new managers took over. The company is Travez Transportation, which could not face a massive lawsuit. The owner of Travez also has a financial stake in the dispatch company, Skyline Credit Ride, that CBS has used for years. Fedahi was driving on a probationary license with TLC. Fedahi began started working as a black-car driver for Skyline Credit Ride in October 2014. However, his car was owned by Travez Transportation.

The negligence in hiring and supervision would make for a classic wrongful death action based on negligence. If treated as a common carrier, the company would face an even more difficult standard but it may not be needed in this case. The history of prior incidents and complaints raise a particularly bad factual foundation for a tort case. The question is whether the car was leased by CBS and whether the network could also be sued for its own negligence in contracting with the car company. The question is whether complaints were raised with CBS about the company or the driver before the accident.

New York has a varied statute of limitations period for different types of accidents. For car accidents, the statute of limitation is three years but for wrongful death it is the more common two year period.

33 thoughts on “Driver Involved In Fatal Crash With Bob Simon Was Driving With Only One Workable Arm, A Conditional License, Nine Prior Suspensions, And A Long Record Of Complaints”

  1. “tellingitlikeitis” raises two issues.

    1 cbs as a defendant. the issue is one of workers’ compensation. see, in general, article 2 of the workers’ compensation law. you are entitled to disagree, but you have not provided any reference to any concept or precept of law, nor to any statute, rule or case. none of the theories you propose have ever worked to expose the employer to a direct claim.

    2 the city of new york as a defendant. this one is simple. negligence is defined as the breach of a duty to a foreseeable plaintiff which proximately results in damage to that plaintiff. although the city of new york has many duties to the public as a whole, the absence of any special duty to this particular plaintiff negates the possibility that a breach of duty has occurred. see, for example, valdez v city, 18 N.Y.3d 69 (2011), a decision of the court of appeals, the highest court in new york state, which clarified more than seven decades of litigation and jurisprudence about municipal liability. q.e.d.

    for whatever it is worth, “paul c schulte” is correct to the extent that, even though this is a spectacular case involving a famous person, the actual measure of damages for the wrongful death of a 73-year-old employed man is limited. i haven’t read any jury verdict reports since i retired five years ago, but 1) conscious pain and suffering did not last long (if it existed at all), 2) the surviving wife was not present at the scene, and 3) the economic future stream of income is a simple matter of statistical analysis. i’d put a wild-ass guess of maximum value at the very low seven figures.

  2. Paul

    You are correct in mentioning his advanced age and expected longevity. . .both will be used to determine damages. Given that he was still actively working for CBS, as a reporter, and appeared to be in good health. . .those points will also factor into his “worth” when it comes to determining any damages. Sometimes families, however, do not bring lawsuits for the sole reason of obtaining money. There may be a quest to improve the system, so that others will not suffer the same consequences.

    1. tellingitlikeitis – is NY a contributory negligence state? If it is, this is going to get even more messy. Regardless of whether seatbelts are required to worn (there seems to be a division of opinion at this point), he should have worn his. We drum this into people all the time. My car makes funny noises if I do not put my seatbelt on. So, he certainly contributed to his death. The driver seems to be at fault for the accident, but has survived the accident. The previous owner’s 86ed him, but the new owners rehired him. The question will be how much of his background did they know about. Coming from a state where a lot of illegals get hired, it is possible to cover a lot.

      This should be one of those trials that they televise. This could be fun.

  3. alan tiger

    I have a different take on several of the potential issues found in this story, and I would like to RESPECTFULLY disagree with you on several points. I emphasize the word RESPECTFULLY because I believe that there can be a difference of opinions without the need to be DISRESPECTFUL of others contributing to this site.

    You stated that CBS, as a named defendant in any potential suit, “ain’t gonna happen”. . .well. . .it may not happen if the Simon family and its attorneys decide not to name the corporation because of ties to and/or affection for CBS, but depending on how aggressive Simon’s attorneys are, it is not inconceivable that CBS would be named as a defendant in a future lawsuit. Some of the questions that need to be asked and answered are. . .was there a duty, on the part of CBS, to vet a company with whom it entered into a contract, especially if that contract pertained to the transportation of its employees? What was the scope of that duty, and did CBS meet that duty? While Simon may have been an employee of CBS, using employer-paid transportation, it could be argued that Simon was not “engaged” in his employment due to the fact that he was using the transport to take him home, after hours. Using a benefit/perk, issued by your employer, but AFTER HOURS, may be a crucial point with regard to whether worker’s comp even applies here. . .not too sure that worker’s comp will automatically kick in and shield CBS from any and all responsibility, including a direct tort claim.

    You also mention that the City of New York is off the hook, so to speak. Again, I respectfully disagree. There are rules and regulations governing the the ability to acquire a chauffeur’s license, which I assume the driver needed to to transport passengers in his vehicles. Were those rules and regulations complied with, and should a temporary permit, given his driving record, numerous complaints and mental health problems, been issued? I don’t believe that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission is out of the woods here.

    1. tellingitlikeitis – since they will be looking for money damages and those damages will be based on Simon’s expected longevity, both as an employee and as a human, I am just not sure how much we are going to be talking about here.

  4. Thanks Karen S….I now presume my choice of hired rides is a “Livery Cab”…and just happens to be the better choice for me at the time in my locale. They have a designated place at the airport for their vehicles, separate from taxi cabs, but equally close to arrival doors.

  5. Maybe it’s being in the back seat? When a passenger in family/friend cars, I’m almost always shotgun. “I call shotgun!”

  6. There is something about getting into a cab and not wearing seatbelts, a time it is even more needed! I always belt up when driving and when a passenger. I often don’t when I’m in a cab. I don’t know why this is.

  7. wow. this would a dream case for a final exam on torts. but that scenario is fatally complicated because we know very little of the facts.

    1 seat belts
    new york state vehicle and traffic law section 1229-c requires the use of seat belts by all persons. there are certain exceptions and clarifications for infants, handicapped persons, rural letter carriers, etc. poster “lou” claims that the website of the new york *city* taxi and limousine commission (emphasis supplied) asserts that taxis and vehicles-for-hire are exempt from this law. sorry. it matters not what anybody posts on a website. no commission of any *city* in new york state can overrule any statute created by the new york *state* legislature. n.b.: you may be guided by the fact that the statute itself (and the rest of the V&TL) does not provide for any alteration or exception to be created by anyone.

    like the tracy morgan v walmart case in new jersey, simon’s apparent failure to properly utilize available seat belts will be raised as an affirmative defense on damages. accident reconstruction firms will have a ball with this one.

    2 negligent hiring and retention, etc.
    the checkered history of the driver will be an inescapable millstone for the owner of the vehicle, travez transportation.
    mr. turley’s column does not identify the full name of the owner of the vehicle. i assume that travez is a corporation. any attempt to associate any other business entity (corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.) to travez must await further facts. generally, the dispatch company servicing one or more vehicle-for-hire companies cannot be reached – they don’t maintain the vehicles (generally done by another corporation), they don’t drive them, and they don’t hire the drivers. that the owner of travez transportation may happen to have some ownership interest in the dispatch company isn’t enough. piercing the corporate veil isn’t an easy task.

    3 cbs as a defendant?
    nope. it ain’t a-gonna happen. if simon was an employee of cbs and was engaged in his employment (which would include employer-provided transportation), and if cbs provided workers compensation for its employees, cbs will be exempt from any direct tort claim made by simon’s estate. period.

    however, there are certain circumstances under which an employer can be impleaded (counter-sued) by a primary defendant as a third-party defendant. the death of the employee passes the first hurdle on this issue (see “grave injury” defined in WCL section 11), but there’s lots more to go, which becomes more and more complicated.

    besides, what was the negligence of cbs? using skyline, the dispatcher? i’m not yet convinced that skyline has any liability in the first place! as newbie law students are taught: “negligence in the air, so to speak, is not actionable.” and that brings us to the even more complicated issue of “proximate cause.”

    4 another deep pocket?
    the driver of the town car (fedahi) and the owner (travez) will be primarily liable. the owner and operator of the other vehicle might have some remote liability (no facts on this issue have yet been disclosed). poster “isaac” wants the city of new york as a defendant. nope. that won’t happen, either. not even if the city (or one of its commissions) were negligent in issuing a license to the tortfeasor-driver.
    poster “isaac” also wants “the insurance companies” to pay. sorry. the insurance companies for any of the potential defendants are never obligated to pay anything unless and until their insureds are found legally liable, although the carriers (who control the defense of the lawsuit in accordance with the insurance policy) are entitled to settle at any time.

  8. No lawsuit on Earth can bring Bob Simon back. That’s the tragedy.

    This is why I oppose laws that prevent employers from doing a background check or criminal history on applicants.

    This driver was suicidal, impaired, and reckless. Poor Simon. This is a good reminder to all to wear a seat belt, even if you’re in a limo or Town Car.

  9. Okay, I’m a rube…just what is a “Livery Cab?” How are they different from regular Taxi Cabs, if they are? Or are they more like “Metro Cars” here, who drive high end Lincolns or Cadillacs for local trips on a fee per zone basis, rather than metered charges like our Taxis here? Metro Cars can meet you at the airport, etc. and drive you to your destination more like a limo than a cab. When I was traveling weekly out of DTW I used Metro Cars…mainly because they were cleaner, hit appointed times accurately, and the drivers at least spoke English.

    1. The story contains sufficient details to understand the who, what, where, why and when.

  10. Brave Captain of Industry

    Unfortunately, it sometimes takes the tragic loss of a celebrity to shine a light on the various weaknesses and problems within a certain industry or profession; this tragic loss will, hopefully, result in the tightening of laws and oversight when it pertains to those involved in this sort of industry. I do hope, however, that out of this senseless and horrible accident, something positive emerges, such as new laws requiring passengers, in various modes of transportation, to buckle up. A seat belt may have saved his life. Those who allowed this individual to get behind the wheel of a vehicle transporting passengers need to be held accountable, whatever form that accountability takes. . .civil and/or criminal.

  11. just goes to show ya; don’t kill a celebrity. Had the deceased been a nobody like you and me, the guy driving would be at work today…

  12. A friend, who is a seasoned New Yorker, once warned me about the dangers of ever taking a livery cab, which is what Mr. Simon had been in when this fatal crash occurred. Not being a native New Yorker, I was unaware that livery cab drivers were perceived as being some of the most dangerous and reckless on the road. The first reaction, from my friend, when I told him that I had just seen the news about the accident, was to say. . .HE WAS IN A LIVERY CAB? OMG! I guess my question is, if that is a common perception of these drivers, how is it that CBS could contract with a company dispatching these vehicles? Another question is how the Taxi Commission ever granted this guy even a TEMPORARY license to drive a passenger vehicle, given his horrendous record? This is a tragic and sad accident, which could have been prevented. My heart goes out to the Simon family. May he rest in peace.

  13. Dominic

    This is a classic case of stupidity to the point of being bizarre. It is the stuff comedic films are made of. It would be hilarious if not so tragic. The damages should be set at an astronomical level if only to make a statement of the negligence of the institutions that oversee this industry. The guy had one working arm, nine suspensions, and somebody in the system said he’s OK to drive. The first in line to collect from is the City of New York, then the insurance companies, then the owners of the cab company. The owners don’t issue licenses. The owners don’t pay out when something goes amiss. The system is apparently not working. The system needs a tune up.

  14. This is a classic case of negligence on the part of company which hired this driver. With this gentleman behind the wheels, it was only a matter of time before a catastrophe of this extent happened.

  15. I do not understand why people hire people like him to drive. Although at 73 Simon’s working life expectancy would be limited which might limit the damages.

  16. I don’t think Simon would have survived unless he was wearing a steal cafe. The car was practically demolished.

    Why on earth was this man still driving. It is criminal. The limo company should be shut down and he should be jailed.

  17. A defense lawyer will play this one big time: Bob Simon was not wearing seat belt according to police report.

    The New York City medical examiner said that Simon died from blunt-force injuries to his head, torso and extremities and that he had fractures, the Associated Press reported.

    But:

    Passengers in New York taxicabs and vehicles-for-hire are not required to wear seat belts, according to the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission.
    “Drivers of yellow medallion taxicabs and for-hire vehicles and their passengers are exempt from laws regarding car seats and seatbelts,” the agency’s website says.
    “Keep in mind, the TLC encourages everyone in the vehicle to buckle their seatbelts while riding in a cab”.

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