The Woolwich widow of a man fatally struck by a truck in front of his family on I-295 nearly two years ago is suing Amazon and three trucking firms the online retail giant hired that allegedly had a history of safety violations.
Joseph Fisher, 41, his wife Misty and three children were headed north for a holiday camping trip on July 3, 2020, when he pulled over into the breakdown lane to deal with a problem with his boat trailer.
A white box truck, driven by Nasser Tibaijuka, 43, of Waltham, Massachusetts, struck Fisher, throwing him into the air and down onto the highway, the complaint said. Fisher, a commercial fisherman, died of his injuries 10 days later.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Sagadahoc Superior Court in Bath, Misty Fisher alleged that Amazon Services, a division of the online retailer, was negligent in contracting with trucking firms in Massachusetts.
The complaint said that Amazon Services and the contracted trucking companies were negligent in their hiring, training and oversight of drivers like Tibaijuka.
The Massachusetts trucking companies named in the complaint are Midnight Transportation, Merrimack Transportation and Arafat Logistics. They contract with Amazon Services to deliver packages to post offices and other locations for distribution to buyers, but which business actually owned the box truck Tibaijuka was driving still must be determined.
The lawsuit alleges that Amazon Services tightly controls the entire shipping process for its packages, dictating the manner and method of delivery and controlling all details relating to the shipment. For that reason, the lawsuit argues, the retailer was reckless and negligent in contracting with trucking companies that had a history of safety violations.
“In its rush for profits, Amazon is knowingly putting dangerous truckers on the road,” Fisher’s attorney, James E. O’Connell III of Lewiston, said Wednesday. “For the sake of public safety, Amazon is required to ensure the trucking companies it hires are safe, and yet here, Amazon repeatedly used a trucking company with a known dangerous safety record.”
A spokesperson for Amazon, Alisa Carroll, declined to comment on the allegations in the complaint.
“While our deepest sympathies are with Mr. Fisher’s family, because litigation has just been initiated, we’re not in a position to offer any comment right now,” Carroll said.
Representatives for the trucking firms did not respond to a request for comment.
Fisher is seeking unspecified damages for herself and her children for funeral expenses, loss of income, emotional distress, pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Tibaijuka was driving north on I-295 at about 6:03 a.m. on July 3, 2020, when he allegedly got a phone call that distracted him. He drifted into the breakdown lane and struck Fisher. Tibaijuka drove 0.2 miles before pulling over, the complaint said. He allegedly tried to leave the scene before police arrived but was detained by a witness to the crash. At some point, he left the scene and police found him later in the day delivering packages at the Litchfield Post Office.
Tibaijuka was indicted on one count of manslaughter, a Class A crime, in October 2020 by a Sagadahoc County grand jury. In a plea agreement with Sagadahoc County District Attorney Natasha Irving, that charge was dropped and Tibaijuka pleaded guilty in September to one count of driving to endanger, a Class C crime due to Fisher’s death.
Tibaijuka was sentenced to 10 months of incarceration and fined $575. In addition, his driver’s license was suspended for six months. He is not listed as a prisoner with the Maine Department of Corrections. Information about when he was released was not available Wednesday.
If Tibaijuka had been convicted of manslaughter, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. On the charge of driving to endanger, he faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.