A New Jersey court of appeal has moved texting
liability to uncharted waters after ruling that a person who sends
a text-message to a person who is likely to text back while
driving, can be held liable for damages caused by that driver. The
text-sender must, however, know or have special reason to know that
the recipient will view the message while driving and thus be
distracted by it.
In the case at hand, an 18 year-old driver grievously injured
two individuals on a motorcycle after crossing the centre-line of
the road and hitting them with his pick-up truck. The driver's
17 year-old friend – Shannon Colonna - was texting him much
of that day, including immediately before the accident. The
plaintiffs' argued that Colonna was "electronically
present" in the car and therefore partially responsible for
distracting him on the road.
Colonna won the appeal, as the Court ruled there was
insufficient evidence to establish she knew or had special reason
to know the driver was driving at the time of her texts and could,
therefore, be distracted by them. The Court, however, agreed with
the merits of the plaintiffs' argument, concluding that
"[i]f the sender knows that the recipient is both driving and
will read the text immediately, then the sender has taken a
foreseeable risk in sending a text at that time." As a result,
"[t]he sender has knowingly engaged in distracting conduct,
and it is not unfair also to hold the sender responsible for the
The decision in this case is part of a general trend by courts
and legislatures to crack down on the dangers of texting and
driving. This is the first decision that targets text-senders,
however, and it will be interesting to see how courts in future
cases deal with whether or not the text-sender has the requisite
"knowledge" to be held liable for injuries caused by
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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