Virginia Traffic Ticket Operating Negligence Special Damages Attorneys Bath County
JOHN v. ATHAN LEE BIN
Plaintiff was directing traffic near the Coca-Cola plant on Princess Street while acting as a ground guide for a large truck that was attempting to exit the plant. Defendant was operating a motor vehicle on Princess Street and struck the Plaintiff. In a subsequent personal injury action, the jury, after receiving instruction on the doctrine of last clear chance, found in favor of the Plaintiff. The jury awarded damages in the exact amount of the Plaintiff’s special damages only.
- Whether the last clear chance doctrine applies to the inattentive plaintiff?
- Whether the plaintiff’s conduct constituted negligence per se?
1) Whether the last clear chance doctrine applies to the plaintiff?
The Court finds that the Plaintiff knew he was standing in the travel lanes of Princess Anne Street, at twilight, in dark clothes, holding a non-reflective stop sign, while vehicles approached him. Clearly, he was not unconscious of his peril. Therefore, the Plaintiff was not an inattentive plaintiff and, as a result, the doctrine of last clear chance does not apply. Moreover, even if the Plaintiff could somehow contort himself to fit the Court’s definition of the “inattentive” plaintiff, the Defendant would be liable “only if he actually saw the inattentive plaintiff. The Defendant has always maintained that he never saw the Plaintiff prior to the collision. So, again, the doctrine of last clear chance does not apply.
2) Whether the plaintiff’s conduct constituted negligence per se?
Plaintiff was not experiencing an emergency or mechanical breakdown; he was acting as a ground guide for the driver of a large truck. Furthermore, Plaintiff is not a member of one of the classes of persons exempted from the application of this statute. Namely, on the day in question, Plaintiff was not a “law-enforcement officer, school guard, firefighter, or member of a rescue squad engaged in the performance of his duties. Moreover, Plaintiff “failed to heed traffic that was obvious and in dangerous proximity. Plaintiff saw the Defendant’s vehicle approaching yet he nevertheless attempted to impede the progress of the Defendant’s vehicle at twilight, while wearing dark clothing, and while holding a non-reflective stop sign. Additionally, Plaintiff turned his back to Defendant’s approaching vehicle. Plaintiff’s decision to recklessly expose himself to a foreseeable harm coupled with his violation of the applicable statute constitutes negligence per se.
Clearly, the Plaintiff violated the duty not to stop a vehicle of another for the sole purpose of impeding its progress per Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-818(1) (2002) when he undertook to act as a ground guide for the driver of the Coca-Cola truck and was subsequently struck by the Defendant’s vehicle. Because Plaintiff violated this duty, he was negligent. And because Plaintiff was negligent, the jury’s verdict in favor of the Plaintiff is contrary to the evidence.
The plaintiff could be found guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor and be subject to suspension of his driver’s license for up to one year. In light of these findings, the jury verdict is set-aside, as contrary to the evidence.
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Article written by A Sris
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.