Woman Cleared Of Negligence For Text Messaging Driving Boyfriend

As a follow-up to last week’s post entitled “Can You Be Liable For Sending A Text Message To Someone Driving?“, the judge in this New Jersey case recently answered the question in the negative.  Judge David Rand ruled last week in Morris County Superior Court that the driver’s girlfriend could not be held responsible for negligently distracting her driver boyfriend by sending text messages when she knew (or should have known) that he was driving.

The decision was rendered in a 2009 case in which the 19-year old driver, Kyle Best, allegedly was texting and driving when his pickup truck rear-ended a motorcycle.  David and Linda Kubert was on that motorcycle and both tragically lost their left legs as  a result.  The Kubert’s attorney indicated that he would appeal this decision.

Judge Rand provided the following rationale for his decision:  “I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the defendant in this case under these facts. Were I to extend this duty, in my judgment, any form of distraction could potentially serve as basis of a liability case.”

One thing is clear from this un-precedented decision, we have not heard the last of this issue.  We will definitely see further court cases involving similar issues.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • And what is the intended purposes of suing the supposed contributing girlfriend?

    The amount of loss, whatever that maybe, should be recoverable from the driver. If the girlfriend were also held liable, wouldn’t that properly just distribute that same amount of loss amongst the two?

    So, unless the driver was woefully underinsured, and otherwise unable to pay whatever the loss is deemed to be, what good is this?
    Can the suing party know ahead of time that the driver has insufficient insurance to cover the hoped for amount of the suit AND no other assets available?

    Otherwise all this seems like fishing.
    Even worse would be if somehow, a greater amount could be obtained by including the girlfriend, even though the severity of the loss is unaffected by that.
    These things shouldn’t be for financial gain…, just amends for a loss

    Reply
    • Carsten,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am sure that this won’t be the first case attempting to extend liability to a person sending a text message. The girlfriend was likely sued as an attempt to find additional insurance coverage. I presume that the boyfriend has minimal insurance coverage.

      Matthew Weiss

      Reply

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