Friday, October 19, 2012

Chaffin v. Brame case brief

Chaffin v. Brame (1951)
233 N.C. 377

Procedural History
•    Plaintiff auto driver filed a property damage action against defendant truck driver as a result of the auto colliding with the truck, which was parked on a highway at night without warning lights or signals. A Lincoln County trial court (North Carolina) entered the jury’s verdict that the auto was damaged by the truck driver’s negligence and that the auto driver was not contributorily negligent. The truck driver sought review.

•    The truck driver conceded that parking his truck on the traveled portion of the highway at night without displaying lights or warning signals was sufficient to establish actionable negligence on his part. He claimed that the auto driver was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law because the auto driver did not control his car in order to be able to stop within the range of the auto driver’s lights.

•    Is it negligent as a matter of law to continue driving while blinded due to oncoming headlights?

•    No, it is not negligent as a matter of law to continue driving while blinded due to oncoming headlights.

•    The duty of a nocturnal motorist to exercise ordinary care for his own safety does not extend so far as to require that he has to be able to bring his automobile to an immediate stop on the sudden arising of a dangerous situation that he could not reasonably have anticipated. Any such requirement is tantamount to an adjudication that it is negligence to drive an automobile on a highway in the nighttime at all.
•    The law simply decrees that a person operating a motor vehicle at night has to drive in such a manner that he can stop his automobile or change its course in time to avoid collision with any obstacle or obstruction whose presence on the highway is reasonably perceivable to him or reasonably expected by him.

•    The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

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