Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Texting/Driving liability lawsuit

Following up on last Thursday's post, ABC News Friday afternoon reported New Jersey Superior Court Judge David Rand's ruling that the woman sending a text message to her boyfriend while he was driving cannot be held liable for the motor vehicle accident he subsequently caused.

"Drivers are bombarded with all forms of distractions," Judge Rand told the courtroom, according to The New Jersey Star-Ledger. "I found that there was no aiding or abetting here in the legal sense. I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the defendant in this case under these facts. Were I to extend this duty, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as basis of a liability case….. "Americans have become almost addicted to the wireless communication device," the judge expounded in the Star-Ledger to a courtroom filled with reporters rapidly plucking away at their cell phones. "We've become so familiar with the text feature that it is a fact of life."

Commenting on decision, Law.com/New Jersey Law Journal reported "the closest case Rand found was Durkee v. Jett, 09-cv-449, in which a federal judge in the Western District of North Carolina last year threw out a products liability claim brought by four people injured when a tractor-trailer hit a car, allegedly because the driver was distracted by a text from the dispatcher. The suit faulted the tractor-trailer communications system because it allowed receipt of texts while the vehicle was in motion. Rand found Durkee, which is on appeal, not controlling but instructive."

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