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Cervelli v. Graves

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Cervelli filed a negligence action against Graves after their two vehicles collided.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A jury can assess a defendant’s exceptional skills or qualities when determining whether a defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care of a reasonable person.

    Facts.

    Cervelli lost control of his truck on an icy highway. Traveling behind Cervelli was a cement truck driven by Graves. When Cervelli began to swerve, Grave sought to pass Cervelli and the two vehicles collided. The trial court found that Graves had ten years of experience driving commercial vehicles but instructed the jury that it could not take into account Graves’ commercial driving experience. The jury found for Graves.

    Issue.

    Whether a jury can assess a defendant’s exceptional skills or qualities in determining whether a defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care of a reasonable person?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is reversed. The trial court erred by instructing the jury that it could not consider the defendant’s exceptional qualities in determining whether or not the defendant was negligent.

    Discussion.

    A jury can assess a defendant’s exceptional skills or qualities when determining whether a defendant’s conduct fell below the standard of care of a reasonable person. If a defendant possesses exceptional qualities or characteristics, the standard of care is the manner in which a reasonable person with exceptional qualities or characteristics would perform.


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