Liability for Texting a Driver?

Author: Chris Tieke, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

Kubert v. Best: New Jersey creates a new duty for a person sending a text to the driver of a vehicle.

Many states already make it illegal to text message while driving.[1]  However, in August a New Jersey court of appeals took an additional, drastic step to curb the dangers of texting and driving.   In the case of Kubert v. Best, the court held that “the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the text sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.”[2]  Although the intent of the court to address the prevalent danger of texting and driving is laudable, the decision is far from clear regarding the burden of proof a plaintiff carries going forward.  Additionally, the standard established by the court is difficult, if not impossible, to prove.  Despite the confusion in this decision, it would not be surprising to see courts in other states create liability for those who text a person whom they know is driving a motor vehicle.

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No More Horsing Around with the Ohio Revised Code

Author: Chris Tieke, Contributing Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

The Ohio Supreme Court sets a common approach to interpreting statutorily created torts and immunities: Smith v. Landfair, Horvath v. Ish, and Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials, N.A., Inc.

Today, state legislatures play an increasingly important role in creating and implementing statutes that define, and sometimes limit, tort liability.  In tension with this increased activism by legislatures is the traditional role of courts in creating common law principles and traditions of recovery for tort claims.  With legislatures willing to become more involved in determining when actions may give rise to civil liability, much of a court’s work has shifted to applying rules of statutory interpretation.  Knowing that a court uses rules of statutory construction to interpret statutes is Law School 101.  More important, however, is to understand which rules the court applies and the manner in which the court applies them to cases when a particular statute is at issue.  The recent Ohio Supreme Court cases of Smith v. Landfair, Horvath v. Ish, and Houdek v. ThyssenKrupp Materials, N.A., Inc. have clarified the Court’s approach to statutory interpretation with regard to statutory torts and immunities. [1]

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