Obey the law......still get sued?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mark Murphy, Feb 22, 2004.

  1. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    This story ran in this mornings Boston Globe.. In Mass, you are supposed to let pedestrians cross, yet this guy was sued for doing just that. Its a $100 fine if you don't stop at a crosswalk. I feel bad for the family but the guy didn't do anything wrong.
     
  2. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    And now all Verizon customers will be helping to pay the greedy parents.


    [​IMG]




    The big question, would the parents have sued if he was not a worker for a multi-million dollar company?


    Chris
     
  3. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    I dont get this one???

    How can the car that stopped (following the law) and that didnt hit her be sued???

    Now, I could see suing the car that did hit her for not stopping... How can they sue someone who didnt even touch her and let her cross???

    Now, the car that did hit her... Did these girls just run in front of the car??? Did the driver not see them??? Or was the driver just not paying attention???

    For example, I try not to drive by schools, etc. during closing time... These punks just run in front of your car no matter how much you are paying attention...

    This one girl was throwing stuff from her school bag in the middle of the street one day trying to disturb traffic purposely while laughing with a group of her dingbat friends... Now if she was hit, she shouldnt be allowed to sue anyone IMO because she caused it... In a way she brings it on herself when some car plows into her one day...
     
  4. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I work for Verizon so this one really caught my attention. It happened a month before I was hired (Feb '96) so I don't remember hearing about it. Its an unfortunate accident but where do we draw the line?
     
  5. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    I'm not sure of all the details of that case, but I know that here in Ohio, if you are sitting in traffic and wave a car through, and they hit by an oncoming car in the lane they are pulling into, you can be held liable. Apparently it's assumed that they are pulling out blind, and that you are basically acting as their eyes. I read about this a year or two ago after a news story where a driver was sued after letting someone pull out in front of him. I'm much less likely to wave someone out now.
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    I have to say this one really takes the biscuit. How on earth could the Verizon employee, who didn't hit the girl, be liable? I see Scott's analogy, but this still doesn't make sense: the accident was entirely caused by someone else's negligence (the driver that did hit the girl), and I don't see how the Verizon driver could have contributed to the accident.
     
  7. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I've heard the same. I'll leave a gap, but you're on your own from there [​IMG]
    I imagine it would be tough to prove that the other driver motioned them through though.
     
  8. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Wasn't this a settlement versus having a jury decide that Verizon was at fault ? I.e - Verizon decided it was "cheaper", both financially and from a PR standpoint, to pay up rather than go through trial as the "bad guy".

    Unbelievable....
     
  9. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a friend in the insurance business who told me once that here in Texas (if not everywhere) that any motion you make to a pedestrian or other driver that would indicate it is okay to "proceed" makes it YOUR fault if they are involved in any kind of accident as they do so.

    It's another one of those 'not responsible for their own actions' things. ("Well, that there guy let me go in front of him, so I figgered the train would have to stop for me.")

    Paul
     
  10. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    There's no indication in the article that this was a crosswalk.

    M.
     
  11. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    It is a four-laner though. I am sure that the article left out the good stuff, like maybe the girl flipped him the bird so he just waved the car on through...

    Glenn
     
  12. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Right, the article says nothing about a "cross-walk". It says the two were half-way across a busy four-lane road when a van (which is hard to see through or around for any driver behind it) stopped, thereby giving the two dingbats the "go ahead" to continue across the street. They were then struck by another vehicle, probably travelling at the speed of traffic, that they stepped out in front of.

    So I can see where the Verizon employee could be held partially responsible for the ultimate outcome, but how the company gets dragged into this or how the majority of fault was not assigned to the two girls who stepped out "blind" into traffic and were trying to cross a street when it was clearly not safe to do so (because of the on-coming traffic.)

    Crossing in the middle of a street is called "jay-walking" and is itself a misdemeanor.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  13. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    If I'm not mistaken, here you are obliged to stop for pedestrian traffic if they have entered or are about to enter your side of the road. The person who hit them would be entirely at fault for driving with undue care and attention, even though the girls should have been checking for more traffic. The van stopped. Anyone beside them should question why. This is another miscarriage of justice.
     
  14. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    It was a verizon van. Perhaps the driver in the other lane thought it was stopping for a legitimate reason. It's tough to say. Was there a curve in the road or anything else that might have hindered visibility?

    It still seems wrong to blame the verizon driver. The girls should have stopped as they got to the other side of the van and looked, something that size can block quite a bit of your view.
     
  15. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    It didn't say that they were jaywalking. Crosswalk or not, if it is at an intersection they had the right of way. Is Verizon appealing this? This is SO, SO gross!

    Glenn
     
  16. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    You're right, there was no mention of a crosswalk. I was just trying to make a point that we are supposed to give pedestrians the right of no matter what. I suppose the Verizon tech should have got out of his van and walked the girls across the street. In our society today, there is no such thing as an accident anymore.
     
  17. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    So I'm guessing this just opened up the floodgates. I'll be sure now to step out into traffic, crosswalk or not, in front of a big companies truck so I can take them to the cleaners when the expected happens, that being I get hit, put into the hospital and knowingly be somewhere (on the freeway for example) where I shouldn't have been.

    Its ludicrous.
     
  18. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    It is a SETTLEMENT, meaning Verizon can't, nor do they want to, appeal.



    I can very quickly see why Verizon would settle this.

    Accidents like these happen ALL THE TIME... The girls were standing in the middle (presumably on the double line or on the median) of a busy 4 lane road. They were in fact "jaywalking," however, they had reached the (relative) safety of the middle.

    The Verizon van had no legal obligation to stop for them. In fact, by stopping he MAY have been breaking the law and had another sort of accident happened (i.e. he got rear ended by someone who didn't expect him to stop in the middle of the street) he would in fact be at least partially responsible. If he was negligent to stop in the first place, and would be liable for ANOTHER type of accident, than its not a huge stretch that a jury might find him liable for this one...

    By stopping, he "encouraged" the girls to cross (not WHERE they did, but WHEN they did) in front of his van, which other quickly moving drivers couldn't see around, and which the girls couldn't see around to avoid oncoming traffic. Had he not "encouraged them" they would have just stood there until the road cleared and would have eventually crossed safely. By encouraging them to cross THEN when it wasn't safe to do so, he opened himself, and his employer Verizon, to liability.


    There are also other factors we don't know about but would come out at trial if they were applicable:

    1. What does his driving record look like? Did Verizon hire somebody who has a shotty record?

    2. Any substance abuse problems? EVER?

    3. Any medical problems that would effect vision, judgement, etc...

    4. How MUCH did he encourage the girls to cross??? Did he just stop and make it possible? Did he "wave" them through? DID HE HONK ON THE HORN TO GET THEM GOING FASTER???

    Now, whether a jury would hold him liable or not is a crap shoot... 50/50... But I can guarantee the damages would be MUCH higher than 4 million bucks and change... The girl will need care for the rest of her life... It's a 50 million dollar case MINIMUM... Some jurisdiction (like L.A. and BOSTON) would have no problem making this a 500 million dollar case. Verizon decided RATHER than risk losing at trial and setting a precedent that THEY ARE liable for accidents like this (they have a LOT OF VANS driving around out there every day) they'll pay a tiny percentage of what the damages are, and call it a day.
     
  19. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    This is one of those deals where you would almost have to have been there and seen the way this played out to have an idea who is to blame.

    Erik makes a lot of points on the side of the Verizon driver being liable. How about this, the girls are running across the street. Verizon dude is approaching and can't tell if the girls are going to stop in the middle of the road or run right in front of him. So he slows down and the girls bolt across.
     
  20. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    As for their jaywalking - the article doesn't say that there was a light or a crosswalk involved, either of which would have put all drivers under an obligation to stop - which means that the legal theory the plaintiff's lawyers pursued (that O'Neil incorrectly stopped, and thereby encouraged the girls to continue across the street when they were still endager) falls apart. If O'Neil could reasonably have expected all traffic to stop then only the driver who hit them could be liable. In order for their families to have a case against O'Neil and Verizon at all it seems to me that the girls had to be jaywalking.

    Regards,

    Joe
     

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