Friday, October 10, 2014

Smalich v. Westfall case brief summary


Smalich v. Westfall case brief summary

F: P was killed as a passenger in her own car when Westfall (D), operator, negligently smashed her car into Blank (D)’s car. Blank (D) and Westfall (D) defended by arguing that P was barred from recovery b/c, as the owner of the negligently driven automobile, Westfall’s negligence was imputed to her.
 

I: Whether contributory neg. of a driver be imputed to a passenger riding in her own automobile w/o a finding of either a master- servant relationship or of joint enterprise btw driver and passenger

R: contributory neg. of a driver may not be imputed to a passenger riding in her own automobile w/o a finding of either a master-servant relationship or of joint enterprise btw driver and passenger
 

A: GR: driver’s negligence will not be imputed to a passenger unless the relationship btw them is such that the passenger would
be vicariously liable as a D for the driver’s neg. Passenger will only be vicariously liable for the neg. of a driver when there is either

a master-servant or joint enterprise. In the ordinary situation like this, we doubt that the owner passenger has the right and ability to control the actions of the neg. driver. It seems that the more reasonable mutual understanding is that the driver will use reasonable care, retaining control, yet subject to the duty of obedience to the owner passenger as to such things as destination. P gave control of the vehicle to Westfall. Thus, neg. could not have been imputed to her, and therefore she cannot be barred from recovery by imputed contributory neg.
 
C: reversed

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