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Law School Case Brief

Grady v. Brown - 408 Md. 182, 968 A.2d 1084 (2009)


If an unfavored driver is involved in an accident with a favored vehicle under circumstances where the boulevard law is applicable, then in a suit based on that collision the unfavored driver is deemed to be negligent as a matter of law. And, if the unfavored driver is a plaintiff, his suit is defeated unless the doctrine of last clear chance rescues his claim. Whereas, if the unfavored driver is a defendant he is liable except in the rare case when the issue of contributory negligence on the part of the favored driver is properly submitted to a jury, i.e., whether he was guilty of negligence that was a proximate cause of the accident.


Petitioners John Grady and his wife, Jacqueline Grady, suffered injuries when the motorcycle on which they were riding collided with a vehicle operated by respomndent Darin Donell Brown. Petitioners filed a negligence action in Maryland state court against Brown and his father, defendant Vern Milton Brown, who owned the car driven by Brown. Petitioners alleged that Brown was negligent in that he failed to grant the right-of-way to the motorcycle and failed to observe the motorcycle in time to avoid the collision. Prior to trial, the parties agreed that if Brown was liable to John, the amount of damages due was $ 50,000. Liability was the only issue in dispute, and thus that issue was the only issue presented to the jury. On a special verdict, the jury found that Brown was not negligent. Petitioners filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or in the alternative for a new trial, which was denied. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed. Petitioners were granted a writ certiorari.


Was Brown negligent pursuant to the Boulevard Rule?




The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals. The court observed that Boulevard Rule required a driver to stop and yield the right of way to all traffic upon approaching a "through highway" from an unfavored road, and that duty continued as long as he was in the intersection and until he became a part of the flow of favored travelers or successfully traversed the boulevard. In order to satisfy the rule, Brown was not required to remain at the curb line ad infinitum, where his vision of oncoming traffic was blocked forever, or at least until the parked cars moved. Brown was not precluded by the rule, after he came to a full stop, from inching up and stopping his vehicle before he entered the traveled portion of the road, in order to get a view of the traffic on the highway. Whether he stopped and whose version of the events to believe was a jury question, and the jury believed Brown.

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