La Jolla Village Square fatal
Police on scene of the fatal collision in La Jolla involving a Garda armored truck. Photo: OnSceneTV

A judge approved a motion Thursday that adds 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 truck driver Kevin Barber alleges the company knew Barber 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, which is also named as a defendant.

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 hiring Barber despite him being unfit to drive.

Attorneys for Jones’ family argue in court papers that Garda hired Barber despite the fact he had no experience driving armored trucks, and only provided him a few hours of training on the day he was hired before sending him out on the road.

The attorneys allege Barber crashed his truck into another car in a parking lot just 19 days after he was hired, and merely gave him a verbal warning to “be more careful.”

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 Barber’s supervisor, in which he stated that he was not concerned about Barber’s driving ability, even after the fatal crash.

“Simply put, despite Garda knowing about Mr. Barber’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 Barber sped up, rather than slowed down, when he came around a curve in the parking lot and struck Jones.

Trial is currently set for April 10.

— City News Service