Where there is conflicting testimony, the issue is for the jury, and the trial court is precluded from making a finding of contributory negligence as a matter of law.
Appellants, husband and wife, driver and passenger of a car, respectively, were found liable at trial in a jury verdict for injuries to respondent motorcyclist when he collided with appellants' car at an intersection. Appellants sought review of the jury verdict entered in the Hudson County Circuit Court (New Jersey).
Were denials of defendants’ motions for nonsuit and direction of verdict erroneous in law on the ground that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of defendants and that plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law?
The court affirmed the judgment against appellant husband, driver of the car, finding that whether he was liable for injuries to respondent motorcyclist was a question of fact for the jury because of conflicting testimony, and reversed the judgment against appellant wife, passenger in the car, because appellant husband was not driving the car as his wife's agent. The court held that the trial court should have granted appellant wife's motion for a directed verdict because appellant husband was not driving the car as an agent of his wife but rather in his own capacity to purchase provisions for his household. The court held that appellant husband's liability was properly submitted to the jury because whether appellant husband was negligent was a question for the jury in light of conflicting testimony. The court found that respondent was not contributorily negligent because he exercised reasonable care in proceeding into the intersection. The court held that whether respondent executed a release to appellant husband of his claim was a question for the jury because of conflicting evidence and further, that appellants' repudiation of any such release allowed respondent to sue on his original action.