Swiney v. Malone Freight Lines

545 S.W.2d 112 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1976)



The classic statement of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is this: Where the thing causing the harm is shown to be under the management of defendant or his servants, and the accident is such as in the ordinary course of things does not happen if those who have the management use proper care, it affords reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the defendants, that the accident arose from want of care. The maxim res ipsa loquitur means that the facts of the occurrence evidence negligence; the circumstances unexplained justify an inference of negligence.


Plaintiff was driving his vehicle in a highway. He was meeting a truck which was being operated by defendants. As the vehicles approached each other, two of the truck’s wheels became detached, striking plaintiff’s vehicle and resulting in injuries to plaintiff. Plaintiff filed a suit against defendants, trucking company and its driver, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor. The jury found for plaintiff on damages and liability. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment that denied defendants’ motion for directed verdict and allowed the case to go to the jury on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.


Was the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor applicable where injuries were sustained by a collision caused by two wheels coming off a truck in a highway?




The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor applied to automobile accidents and was applicable in this situation. The defendants, trucking company and its driver, failed to overcome the reasonable inference of negligence. The evidence supported a $ 1,000 award for loss of services and consortium in plaintiff’s favor.

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