Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cohen v. Petty case brief summary

Cohen v. Petty case brief summary
(Court of Appeals of District of Columbia, 1933)

Case Facts— The plaintiff and her sister were passengers in the defendant’s car and were thrown from the car after the car went off the road and into an embankment. The plaintiff and defendant’s stories of events matched; they agreed that the defendant suddenly exclaimed “I feel sick” immediately before fainting and crashing into the embankment. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant was negligent in speed and did not see him faint. The defendant has no history of seizures of fainting and did not previously feel ill.

Procedural History— The judge directed a verdict [took it away from a jury] after deciding that no reasonable jury could find in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed this decision in the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia

Issue— Can someone who is suddenly stricken by an illness(or event), that could not be reasonably anticipated be charged with negligence(damages from event)?

Holding— The original judge was correct in directing the verdict.

Reasoning— The plaintiff could not prove that the defendant was neglible. Even by stating that he was driving very fast, he had no way to anticipate his illness to make the moderate speed a point of negligence.

Judgment/ Resulting Rule — The court affirmed. A person suddenly stricken by an illness, which he had no reason to anticipate is not liable.

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