Hawkins Parnell Wins Summary Judgment and Award for Lyft

January 25, 2024 – Press Release

January 25, 2024 (Santa Ana, CA) – Partner Ryan Sellers of Hawkins Parnell's Orange County office secured a summary judgment victory for Lyft in the Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside.

The case arose from an auto accident while the defendant driver was not logged on to the Lyft platform. The plaintiff sued Lyft and the driver, claiming negligence and vicarious liability. The plaintiff claimed significant catastrophic injuries and underwent spinal fusion surgery.

The motion for summary judgment argued that the defendant driver had logged out of the Lyft platform and was engaged in a purely personal trip at the time of the subject collision. The plaintiff argued that there was an issue of fact as to whether the defendant driver was on the Lyft platform at the time of the subject incident, relying on the Traffic Collision Report and a misguided interpretation of the testimony from Lyft's person most qualified. 

Ryan wrote a reply brief to the opposition arguing that the Traffic Collision Report constitutes inadmissible hearsay and reiterated that the evidence confirms that the defendant driver had been logged out of the Lyft platform for multiple hours before the incident. The judge agreed with the arguments presented in the motion and reply, resulting in the judge disposing of all claims against Lyft. The judge found that the plaintiff failed to offer any evidence contradicting that the defendant driver was engaged in purely personal conduct unrelated to Lyft at the time of the accident. The judge also found that the vehicle-use exception to the "coming and going" rule does not apply to independent contractors and would not apply under the facts of the case.

Prior to the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, Lyft served a statutory offer to compromise for a waiver of costs under Code of Civil Procedure section 998. The plaintiff's counsel served an acceptance of the offer to compromise after Ryan succeeded in summary judgment, which was untimely. Lyft obtained a costs judgment against the plaintiff as a prevailing party.

About Hawkins Parnell & Young

Hawkins Parnell & Young is a national defense litigation firm that has represented many of the largest and most well-known companies in high-risk litigation and business disputes. The 250-strong litigation team works with clients to develop winning defense strategies and, if necessary, try cases to verdict in all 50 states.