Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
While the fact that an intervening act of a third person is negligent does not prevent the actor's negligent conduct from being a legal cause of the harm resulting therefrom to another, the negligence of the act may be so great or the third person's conduct so reckless as to make it appear an extraordinary response to the situation that is created by the actor and therefore a superseding cause of the other's harm.
Plaintiff injured person was involved in a car crash with an oncoming vehicle that had entered his lane due to the partial obstruction of the roadway by the tortfeasor's predecessor in interest (predecessor). The injured person filed a negligence action against the tortfeasor, and a jury returned a verdict in his favor. However, the trial court entered a judgment non obstante veredicto for the tortfeasor, finding that the predecessor's actions were not the proximate cause of the harm to the injured person. Plaintiff appealed the judgment non obstante veredicto entered in favor of defendant tortfeasor.
Could the predecessor’s actions not be considered as the proximate cause of the harm to the injured person, thereby warranting the entry of non obstante veredicto in favor of the tortfeasor?
The court affirmed the trial court's judgment, and held that the oncoming vehicle would not have entered the injured person's lane if the predecessor had not been performing its work on the road. However, the actions of the driver of the oncoming vehicle, in remaining in the injured person's lane rather than returning to her own lane once she passed the road obstruction, clearly caused the accident. The actions of the driver of the oncoming vehicle, in contravention of the standard of care for operators of motor vehicles, were extraordinarily negligent and rendered the predecessor's negligence remote and not the cause of the injured person's injuries.