Monday, November 11, 2013

Pipher v. Parsell case brief

Pipher v. Parsell case brief summary
930 A.2d 890 (2007)

Plaintiff first passenger appealed a judgment as a matter of law in favor of defendant driver by the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for Kent County; the first passenger claimed that the driver was negligent in allowing a second passenger to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle in which they were riding.


As the parties were traveling at 55 miles per hour in the driver's truck, the second passenger unexpectedly grabbed the steering wheel causing the truck to veer off onto the shoulder of the road. Approximately 30 seconds later, the second passenger again yanked the steering wheel, causing the truck to leave the roadway, slide down an embankment, and strike a tree. The first passenger was injured as a result of the collision. At trial, the driver acknowledged that he could have taken different steps to try to prevent the second passenger from grabbing the steering wheel a second time.


  • The appellate court found that the driver's recognition of how serious the second passenger's conduct was, showed that he was aware that he had someone in his car who had engaged in dangerous behavior. 
  • The issue of the driver's alleged breach of duty to the first passenger, the forseeability of the second passenger's repeat conduct, and the proximate cause of the first passenger's injuries were all factual determinations that should have been submitted to the jury. 
  • Therefore, the trial court erred in granting a judgment as a matter of law to the driver.
The judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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