Monday, November 11, 2013

Warren v. Jeffries case brief

Warren v. Jeffries case brief summary
139 S.E.2d 718 (1965)

Plaintiff administratrix sought review from a judgment of an Alamance County trial court (North Carolina), which entered a judgment of involuntary nonsuit at the close of her evidence in her wrongful death action against defendant car owner.


  • The owner's car was left standing on an incline at the home of the decedent, a 6-year-old child. 
  • The owner gave the child's mother the keys to his car so that she could drive it to a store. 
  • While the mother was in the house, five children, including the decedent, got in the rear seat of the car. They did not touch any of the control mechanisms of the car. 
  • The decedent was the last to get in and when he closed the door something clicked in the front and the car started rolling backward in the direction of a large ditch. 
  • One of the older children opened the door and told the others to jump out. 
  • When the decedent jumped out he fell, and the front wheel ran over his chest. 
  • The administratrix alleged that the owner was negligent in that he failed to set the hand brake, failed to engage the transmission, and failed to maintain adequate brakes. 
  • There was no evidence as to the condition of the brakes, whether the hand brake had been set, or whether the car was in gear.
Thus, the court ruled that the trial court properly granted the nonsuit. What caused the car to make a "clicking" sound and begin rolling backward was pure speculation. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was not applicable.


The court affirmed the trial court's judgment.

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