Monday, November 11, 2013

Podias v. Mairs case brief

Podias v. Mairs case brief summary
926 A.2d 859 (2007)

Plaintiff, the administratrix of a decedent's estate, appealed the judgment of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, which granted summary judgment dismissal of the wrongful death and survivorship action against defendant passengers, which concluded that defendants owed the decedent no duty as a matter of law.


  • Defendants were passengers in a car driven by their friend when their vehicle struck a motorcyclist. 
  • Defendants and the driver all existed their vehicle and looked around and made numerous cell phone calls, but none called for emergency assistance. 
  • Defendants continually told the driver not to get them involved. 
  • Eventually, all of them left the scene and the motorcyclist was struck by another vehicle and killed. 
  • Plaintiff argued that, under the circumstances, defendants owed a duty to the decedent which a jury could reasonably find was breached and that, under the derivative theory of concert liability, a jury could reasonably find that defendants substantially assisted another in the breach of a direct duty.

The court agreed that, in circumstances where the driver of an automobile may either be unwilling or unable to seek emergency aid for an individual struck by the car, the passengers' inaction in failing to take simple precautions at little if any cost or inconvenience to them, was actionable based either on an independent legal duty to act or, vicariously, as aiders or abettors who substantially assisted the driver's misconduct by encouraging him to abandon the scene.


The court reversed the grant of summary judgment to defendants and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, including a trial.

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