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Montgomery v. National Convoy & Trucking Co

    Brief Fact Summary. Without their fault, National Convey & Trucking Co.’s (Defendant) truck stalled on an icy highway, blocking the road completely. Plaintiff’s car crashed into Defendant’s truck. Plaintiff sued Defendant for Defendant’s negligence in failing to warn of the danger he had created in a manner that would have been effective.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. One may be negligent by acts of omission as well as of commission, and liability will therefore attach if the act or omission to act owed to another is the direct, proximate and efficient cause of injury.

    Facts. Without their fault, Defendant’s truck stalled on an icy highway blocking the road completely. Fifteen minutes later, Plaintiff’s car came over a hill and started down toward the trucks before Plaintiff or Plaintiff’s driver could see them. Defendants knew or should have known that Plaintiff’s car could not stop because of the icy conditions of the road. Defendant’s drivers had ample time to place warning signs at the top of the hill where it would have been possible for Plaintiff to stop his car. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence. Defendant directed verdict was refused. The jury awarded Plaintiff $3,000.00. Defendant appealed.

    Issue. Can a party be liable for negligence for the omission to act when there is a duty to act or warn of a danger?

    Held. Yes. Judgment affirmed.
    * One may be negligent by acts of omission as well as of commission, and liability will therefore attach if the act or omission to act owed to another is the direct, proximate and efficient cause of injury.
    * One of the acts of negligence alleged is the failure of Defendant to effectively warn approaching vehicles of the existing conditions.
    * Neither flagman nor warning of any description was placed at the crest of the hill to warn approaching cars. That a warning at the crest of the hill should have been effective and prevented the injury is fully demonstrated from other evidence. The danger of the situation was self-evident.

    Discussion. This case shows an example of a situation when a defendant had a duty to act and was held liable for his failure to act.



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