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Articles - December, 1997

December 1, 1997
New York City Found Liable for Foreseeable Consequences of Road Defects

A motorist struck a large hole in the road. After getting out of his vehicle, he was hit by a car driven by an intoxicated person. The motorist sued the City of New York (City) for damages. The Supreme Court, New York County granted the City's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department held (1) that prior written notice of the defective condition was not required in view of evidence that the City created the hazard and (2) that a factfinder could have concluded defects in the road were the proximate cause of the collision. The appellate court reversed the trial court's decision.


December 1, 1997
North Dakota Supreme Court Abolishes the Doctrine of State Sovereign Immunity from Tort Liability

A widow filed a wrongful death suit against a construction company and the State of North Dakota (State) after her husband was killed in an automobile crash at a road construction site. The District Court, Slope Country, Southwest Judicial District dismissed the complaint. The widow appealed the summary judgments that dismissed her wrongful death action. On appeal, the Supreme Court of North Dakota affirmed dismissal of the suit against the construction company. The appellate court then examined the claim of State sovereign immunity from liability in such actions. On September 13, 1994, the court ruled that the State legislature did not have authority to waive or modify the State's sovereign immunity from tort liability and reversed the dismissal of action against the State, remanding the case.


December 1, 1997
Iowa City Liable for Collision with Disabled Machinery on Highway

A motorist, Richard Collister, and his wife sued the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa (City) to recover for injuries Mr. Collister and his passenger (Elizabeth Martin) received in an early morning crash. The vehicle Mr. Collister was driving (owned by his wife, Peggy Collister) struck the City's disabled street sweeper, which was parked on the highway. The Collisters alleged that the street sweeper's lights were not on at the time of the crash and that the City did not take any action to warn motorists of the machine's location on the highway. A jury in the District Court, Pottawattamie County returned a verdict against the City and the driver of the street sweeper. When the City appealed, the Supreme Court of Iowa held that the City was not immune from liability and affirmed the lower court's decision.


December 1, 1997
Motor Vehicle Crashes Are the Third Leading Cause of Death for Hispanic Americans

Most of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) traffic safety programs are designed for English-speaking motorists and pedestrians. The United States population, however, has many culturally diverse groups. Hispanic Americans are the third largest racial group in the United States, yet there is little data on their involvement in vehicle crashes or their attitudes toward traffic safety. In an effort to bridge that gap, Sandra Sainz and Mitsuru Saito conducted a study and reported their findings in "Hispanic Involvement in Motor Vehicle Accidents." This article describes their study and its results.


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