Cohen v. Petty

65 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1933)



One who is suddenly stricken by an illness, which he has no reason to anticipate, while driving an automobile, which renders it impossible for him to control the car, is not chargeable with negligence. 


Plaintiff automobile passenger sued defendant for permanent injuries she suffered as the result of alleged negligence that caused an automobile accident. The trial court denied plaintiff's complaint. On appeal, the court affirmed holding that uncontradicted evidence showed defendant driver was not negligent as he was suddenly stricken by an illness, which he had no reason to anticipate, and which rendered it impossible for him to control the car.


Did the trial court err in ruling that defendant was not liable for negligence?




The court found defendant did not know and had no reason to think he would be subject to an attack such as overcame him and caused him to faint. Hence negligence could not be predicated upon defendant's recklessness in driving an automobile when he knew or should have known of the possibility of an accident from such an event as the event that occurred. As plaintiff wholly failed to show any actionable negligence prior to the time the car left the road, or causing or contributing to that occurrence, and as defendant's positive and uncontradicted evidence showed the loss of control was due to defendant's sudden illness, it followed the action of the lower court was right.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.