Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mayer v. Petzelt case brief

Mayer v. Petzelt case brief summary
311 F.2d 601 (1962)

Plaintiff driver appealed the order of the United States District Court which entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of defendant police officer in the driver's personal injury suit against the police officer.

The driver violated a traffic law and then parked in a dark alley behind his hotel. The police officer attempted to arrest the driver and proceeded to shake the driver's car and yell at the driver. The police officer did not have his flashlight or a citation booklet with him. The driver got out of the car, ran, fell in the alley, and was injured. The driver filed a personal injury action against the police officer. The jury found for the driver, but the district court entered a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the police officer.


  • On appeal, the court reversed the judgment and remanded for a determination of damages. 
  • The court found that the evidence supported the reasonable inference that the police officer should have foreseen that his vindictive conduct would probably cause the driver, in fear for his safety, to leave his automobile, run away in the dark alley, and be injured while running. 
  • The court held that such an inference supported the jury's finding of negligence.

The court reversed the district court's judgment for the police officer and remanded the cause for trial upon the issue of damages only.

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