Remember the woman who was on the legal hot seat for texting a driver right before the man crashed his vehicle? Common sense has prevailed, and a Morris County, N.J. judge decided Friday that she couldn’t be held responsible or sued for the accident.
Plaintiffs attorney Skippy Weinstein claimed that Shannon Colonna bore responsibility for the accident because she sent the driver who actually crashed the text which caused him to take his eyes off the road.
“She was not physically in the vehicle but she was electronically present. She and he were assisting each other in violation of the law,” Weinstein said to Redtape.
Weinstein is of the mindset that the person who sent the text message, Colonna, should be held accountable for the accident because she distracted the driver from his task at hand. He also alleges that Colonna had to have known the male driver was on his way home from work and that texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey. The defense argued that the sender had no way to tell when the receiver would read the text.
Judge David Rand said this case was unprecedented in New Jersey, as was the ruling to not charge Colonna. Judge Rand cited GPS devices, large billboards on the side of the highway, and other notifications that hinder drivers as reasons why Colonna shouldn’t be held accountable for the accident.
“I find that there was no aiding, abetting here in the legal sense,” Judge Rand said in the ruling as reported by the Wall Street Journal. “I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the defendant in this case under these facts. Were I to extend this duty, in my judgment any form of distraction could potentially serve as basis of a liability case.”
Judge Rand also said that he tried to find a case of similar substance and found nothing that exactly matches the current case he was faced with in New Jersey. Rand did find one case that had a few similar points, but it pertained more to being more instructive rather than controlling. That case was thrown out by a judge in North Carolina which consisted of a tractor-trailer driver hitting a car because he allegedly was reading a text from the dispatcher.
The male driver didn’t escape unscathed by the law however as he is still charged with careless driving, improper use of a cell phone, and failure to stay in lane. The attorney representing the two people injured in the accident plan to appeal the latest ruling.
What do you think? Do you agree with Judge Rand’s ruling? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Source: Wall Street Journal