Wilson v. McEwen

This vehicular negligence case in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg, Virginia, arises from a situation where a tractor-trailer overheated and became disabled in an area on Interstate 81 with no right or left shoulder.  A second tractor-trailer then struck the disabled vehicle, causing injuries to the disabled tractor-trailer’s driver.  The injured driver brought suit against Church Transportation and Logistics, Inc., the owner of the second tractor-trailer.  In a motion for judgment on the pleadings, Church raised contributory negligence as a defense, contending that the plaintiff’s decision to call for help after his vehicle became disabled, rather than immediately place warning devices on the roadway to warn approaching drivers, constituted negligence as a matter of law because it allegedly violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  Those regulations require that the operator of a commercial vehicle stopped in the traveled portion of a highway must, as soon as possible, and in any event within 10 minutes, place warning devices on the roadway in the manner required by the regulations.  The court denied Church’s motion on the grounds that the pleadings said nothing about the length of time that the disabled vehicle had been stopped prior to the collision, nor did they conclusively establish that the plaintiff’s alleged negligence proximately caused the traffic accident.

For a full text of the decision, click here.