Yun v. Ford Motor Co.
Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, 1994.
276 N.J. Super. 142, 647 A.2d 841.
Prosser, pp. 314-319
Facts: The spare tire fell off of Yun’s van and rolled to the left side of the highway. Chang got out of Yun’s car and ran across the highway to get the spare tire. While running back, he got hit by a car and died. Yun sued a whole bunch of people. All of them got summary judgment except for the driver and owner of the car that hit Chang. Yun appealed the judgment.
Issue: Did the defendants’ negligence constitute the proximate cause of the harm to Chang?
Rule: The defendant shall not be found liable when a superseding cause other than the defendant’s negligence is responsible for the harm.
Analysis: The court basically says that Chang was really stupid and shouldn’t have gone running across the street. The court says that this unforeseeable conduct basically breaks the chain of proximate causation that might otherwise hold at least some of the defendants liable.
The dissent says that the case is not such a slam dunk that it should be taken away from a jury. The minority says it is debatable whether the defective spare tire assembly caused the plaintiff’s death. The judge makes the point that judges in general are more conservative than the public at large, and what seems unreasonable and imprudent to a judge might seem like reasonable behavior to the average person.
Conclusion: The dismissal of the suit was upheld, but the New Jersey Supreme Court later overturned the ruling of this court and reinstated the suit.