Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summary Judgment for Defendant Who Was Rear-Ended by Plaintiff

In a recent Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas decision in the case of Marchese v. Jacobs, PICS Case No. 14-0795 (C.P. Lycoming Co. May 1, 2014, Anderson, J.), the court granted summary judgment in favor of a Defendant driver who was rear-ended by the Plaintiff’s motorcyclist.

[Yes, you read that correctly - a plaintiff rear-ended a stopped vehicle and then sued that person - where there's a will, there's a way].

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was riding with other motorcyclists and following the Defendant’s car. The Defendant stopped because the car in front of him had stopped while waiting to turn left. The Plaintiff then collided with the Defendant’s stopped vehicle.

In a Motion for Summary Judgment, the Defendant argued that the accident was solely caused by the Plaintiff’s negligence in failing to keep an assured clear distance between his motorcycle and the Defendant’s vehicle ahead.

The Plaintiff countered with the argument that the Defendants came to a sudden stop and it was the sudden stop that caused the accident, all of which allegations allegedly fell within an application of the sudden emergency doctrine.

The Marchese court noted that the appellate courts of Pennsylvania have found that a sudden braking is deemed to be a foreseeable occurrence on the roadways of Pennsylvania.

Accordingly, the trial court ruled here that the facts of this matter fell within the assured clear distance ahead doctrine rather than the sudden emergency doctrine particularly where the sudden emergency doctrine only applies to "moving instrumentalities" thrust into driver’s path.

Here, the court found no evidence that the Defendant’s vehicle was thrust into the Plaintiff’s path of travel. There was also evidence that the Defendant’s vehicle was at a stopped position, and not moving, at the time of the accident.

Since the court ruled that the sudden emergency room doctrine did not apply and that there was no other evidence of negligence on the Defendant’s part, the Defendants were granted summary judgment.

I do not have a copy of this one.  Anyone desiring a copy of this case may contact the Pennsylvania Instant Case Service of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly by calling 1-800-276-7427 and providing the above noted PICS Case No. along with a payment of a small fee.  

Source: "Case Digests," Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 27, 2014).

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