Brief Fact Summary. Terry Lee Enoch (Enoch), a 6-year old child, was injured when a wheel of Jeffries’ (Defendant) automobile ran over his body. The child died from his injuries. Warren (Plaintiff) brought an action to recover for the child’s alleged wrongful death. Plaintiff appealed a judgment of involuntary nonsuit entered at the close of Plaintiff’s evidence.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The conditions traditionally required for the application of res ipsa loquitur are: “an accident that normally does not happen without negligence; exclusive control of the instrumentality by the defendant; and absence of voluntary action or contribution by the plaintiff.” In order for the Plaintiff to have the benefit of res ipsa loquitur, she must convince the jury that each of these factors more likely than not exists.
Issue. Does the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur apply?
Held. No. No sufficient proof of negligence was offered. All indications were that this was an accident.
Discussion. As noted in Gift v. Palmer, an analogous case, “A verdict cannot be supported on the basis of mere speculation or conjecture. Proof of negligence may be furnished by the circumstances themselves and it is not essential to have eyewitness testimony, but when the circumstantial evidence is offered because direct proof is not available it must provide as the only reasonable inference the conclusion that the accident was caused by the negligence of the defendant.”