- ESTATE OF BRODY V. ENERGY UTILITY
It is 6:00 a.m. on June 17, 2005. Brody is driving a Chevy Camaro southbound on Gingham Road, which is a 2-lane road with a posted speed limit of 40 mph. Brody stops at a 4-way stop sign at the intersection with Earlybird Drive, a straight east-west road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph. Brody then lawfully proceeds into the intersection.
At the same time, Smith is driving a pickup truck eastbound on Earlybird Drive. Smith is blinded by the sun, runs the stop sign, and collides with the passenger side of Brody's car. Smith's truck pushes Brody's car out of the intersection, off the road and into Energy's utility pole. The pole is located 6.6 feet from the southeast corner of the intersection. There are no curbs at the intersection. A pathology study shows that Brody was killed by his collision with the pole, not as a result of the initial impact with Smithâ€™s truck.
A professional engineer hired by Brody's estate reports that,The struck pole is located on the corner of an intersection of 2 heavily trafficked rural roadways, within the curve radius, an area recognized as being vulnerable to vehicles going off the road as a result of an intersection crash, and an area recognized as having an increased potential for crashes.
Energy admits that it has a duty to place utility poles in a reasonably safe location so as to protect the motoring public from harm. However, Energy denies that it owed a specific duty to Brody. It contends that the pole was not in an inherently dangerous location, and that it could not reasonably foresee that Smith would run the stop sign and crash into Brodyâ€™s car, because there were no prior vehicle accidents at this intersection and no prior collisions with this pole. Energy says that intersection collisions are usually minor in nature and that fatal collisions are not reasonably foreseeable.
In rebuttal, Brody's estate contends that the pole was located in the curve radius of an uncurbed intersection where crashes could foreseeably occur and which should have been free of unyielding objects like wooden utility poles. An accident reconstructionist reports that 27% of all motor vehicle collisions occur at intersections.
Brodywas a 27 year old unmarried man who was employed at AAMCO earning $9/hour when he died. His life expectancy at the time of death was 53 years. He left behind a 7 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. He resided with the children's mother. The children are the sole beneficiaries of Brody's estate. They have a claim for the loss of love, affection and parental guidance of their father, as well as loss of financial support.
What amount of damages should be awarded to the children for the wrongful death of Brown (if any)?
Other questions for the jury to consider are:
(1) Could Energy reasonably have foreseen that a collision would occur in the intersection causing a motorist to strike the pole?
(2) Did the pole create an unreasonable hazard for motorists leaving the traveled portion of the roadway who might strike the pole?
It read like energy made a “confession” that it did, just not for Brody(?)
(3) If Energy should be held liable for Brody's death, what percentage of fault should be allocated to Brody, Smith and l Energy?
Smith_____65-75_______% (But for impact, pole not a factor)
Energy____25-35_________% (But for pole, Brody not dead)
(3) How will the assessment of liability against Energy make the motoring public safer?
Probably won’t immediately because Energy or other Energies probably won’t move this pole or any others that present a similar problem or reconfigure the obstruction until such time the cost of not doing so is greater than the cost of doing so.
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