Articles Posted in Transportation Law

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Comparative negligence does not apply in crashworthiness cases, and that South Carolina's public policy does not bar a plaintiff, allegedly intoxicated at the time of the accident, from bringing a crashworthiness claim against the vehicle manufacturer. This case concerned the applicability of comparative negligence to strict liability and breach of warranty claims in a crashworthiness case brought by Plaintiff Reid Donze against Defendant General Motors ("GM"). The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina certified two questions to the South Carolina Supreme Court Court addressing the defenses available to a manufacturer in crashworthiness cases brought under strict liability and breach of warranty theories. View "Donze v. General Motors" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision in "Fairchild v. South Carolina Department of Transportation," (385 S.C. 344, 683 S.E.2d 818 (Ct. App. 2009)). The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for a new trial a negligence action arising from a motor vehicle accident. In relevant part, the Court of Appeals determined (1) Respondent Marilee Fairchild's claim for punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury; (2) the trial court should have charged the jury on the intervening negligence of a treating physician; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant William Leslie Palmer's motion under Rule 35, SCRCP for an independent medical examination (IME) to be performed by Dr. James Ballenger. This action arose out of a motor vehicle that occurred on March 1, 2001 while several vehicles were traveling on Interstate 95. Just before the accident, an employee with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), was driving a dump truck with an attached trailer transporting a backhoe. The employee was traveling in the left lane of the southbound traffic (closest to the median) when he pulled in to a paved "cross-over" in the median so he could turn around and enter the northbound lanes of I-95. While he was stopped waiting for the northbound traffic to clear, the back of his trailer allegedly protruded into the left traffic lane on the southbound side. Several cars traveling south in the left lane directly behind the SCDOT truck, saw the trailer and simultaneously switched to the right lane. When those cars moved over, Fairchild, who was behind them driving a minivan, saw the trailer partially blocking the left lane where she was traveling. She "flashed" her brakes and then continued to brake while staying ahead of the vehicle behind her. Fairchild managed to avoid the trailer, but she was struck by a truck traveling behind her that was driven by William Leslie Palmer. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Fairchild's favor. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, which found reversible error in the trial court's failure to submit the issue of punitive damages to the jury and to charge the jury on the intervening negligence of a treating physician, and found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Palmer's motion for an IME to be performed. View "Fairchild v. SCDOT" on Justia Law