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Dean v. Redmiles - 280 Md. 137, 374 A.2d 329 (1977)

Rule:

In a neglience action against a favored driver by the parents of the deceased passenger and in the action of the passenger of an unfavored driver against the favored driver, if the evidence before the court is sufficient to support a conclusion that the speed of the favored driver was a proximate cause of the accident, then this becomes a jury question. The boulevard rule does not relieve the favored driver from the duty to observe that degree of ordinary care for his own safety which is imposed upon all men.

Facts:

Plaintiff who were the surviving parents of a passenger who was fatally injured in a car accident while riding in the favored vehicle driven by favored driver Redmiles Jr., filed suit against defendant Dean, who was the owner and operator of the unfavored vehicle. Defendant Redmiles Sr. was the owner of the favored vehicle, which had been driven by his son. The trial court determined that the boulevard law did not insulate favored driver Redmiles Jr. from liability to the deceased passenger. The trial court granted damages in favor of plaintiff parents and their daughter's estate as against Dean, who did not appeal.

On appeal by Redmiles Sr., on behalf of his deceased son's estate, the intermediate appellate court reversed upon concluding that the boulevard rule was applicable, that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the favored driver which was the proximate cause of the collision, and thus the trial court erred in refusing to grant a directed verdict in favor of Redmiles Sr. Appellants-plaintiffs parents sought review. They contended that the boulevard law did not insulate the favored driver from liability to the passenger in his vehicle.

Issue:

In a negligence action by parents whose daughter was killed in a car accident, did the trial court correctly determine that the boulevard law or boulevard rule did not insulate the driver from liability to the passenger?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals of Maryland explained that the sole issue presented by the appellants-plaintiffs parents was whether the intermediate appellate court erred in concluding that the negligence of favored driver Redmiles Jr. should not have been submitted to the jury. Reversing, the Court concluded that the intermediate appellate court erred and that the trial court properly submitted the negligence of favored driver Redmiles Jr. to the jury. Agreeing with plaintiff parents, the Court found that there was evidence of excessive speed on the part of the favored driver. Therefore, a jury question was presented because reasonable minds could differ as to whether the conduct of the favored driver was a proximate cause of the accident. Favored driver Redmiles Jr. was not excused by the boulevard rule from his duty of exercising due care for his passenger. According to the Court, the instructions were adequate in light of presented evidence, adequately stated in the applicable law, and properly addressed the issue of contributory negligence as a defense. 

As for the applicable standard of review, the Court explained that in determining whether the plaintiffs adduced legally sufficient evidence to warrant the jury's consideration of the negligence of driver Redmiles Jr., the Court is obliged to consider the evidence and all logical and reasonable inferences deducible therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs.

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