Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cervelli v. Graves case brief

Cervelli v. Graves case summary
661 P.2d 1032 (Wyo. 1983)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant injured party challenged a ruling from the District Court of Sweetwater County (Wyoming), which found that appellees, a driver and his employer, were not negligent in entering a judgment in their favor. Appellant had filed a personal injury action for negligence against appellees to recover for the injuries he had sustained when a cement truck driven by the driver and appellant's pickup truck collided while on an icy and slick road.

-While on an icy, slick road, appellee's pickup truck began to "fishtail" and slide.
-An experienced, professional truck driver approached appellant from behind in his employer's cement truck.
-While attempting to pass the swerving pickup truck, the driver lost control of the cement truck and the vehicles collided into one another.
-Appellant filed a negligence action against appellees for injuries resulting from the collision, and the trial court held that appellees were not negligent.

The court held that: (1) in determining negligence, the jury should be allowed to consider the totality of the circumstances; (2) the jury charge on the reasonable person standard was erroneous because it contained an incorrect statement of law and was misleading in unduly limiting the circumstances in which the jury could consider by taking out of their purview, in instructing them to disregard, the circumstances of the parties' exceptional skill or knowledge; (3) Wyoming Statute did not create a higher standard of care for possessors of a successively higher class of license; and (4) as such, all drivers were held to the same standard of due care.

-An actor is required to recognize that his conduct involves a risk of causing an invasion of another's interest if a reasonable man would do so while exercising (a) such attention, perception of the circumstances, memory, knowledge of other pertinent matters, intelligence, and judgment as a reasonable man would have; and (b) such superior attention, perception, memory, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment as the actor himself has. The standard of the reasonable man requires only a minimum of attention, perception, memory, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment in order to recognize the existence of the risk. If an actor has in fact more than the minimum of these qualities, he is required to exercise the superior qualities that he has in a manner reasonable under the circumstances. The standard becomes, in other words, that of a reasonable man with such superior attributes.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed the trial court's ruling, which had entered a judgment in favor of appellees in finding that they were not negligent, and remanded for a new trial.

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