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Fla. Judge Grants Motion to Allow Punitive Damages in Driving-While-Texting Lawsuit

As the hazards of texting and driving become more widely known and accepted, the law continues to evolve and be tested in new areas.

Recently in New Jersey, you may recall, motorcyclists who were severely injured by a driver who was texting argued that both the texting driver and the person sending that driver the texts should be liable. Ultimately, however, the court ruled against the plaintiffs, finding no aiding or abetting on the part of the sender. "I find it is unreasonable to impose a duty upon the [text-sending] 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," Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand stated in May 2012.

This week, Broward (Florida) Circuit Judge Richard Eadea expanded the traditional limits of liability in injuries caused by texting in another way, when he granted the plaintiff's motion to allow punitive damages in a civil negligence suit. The Daily Business Review reports [paid-access]that plaintiffs lawyers in Florida have been routinely filing motions for punitive damages in texting cases, but without much success until this case.

The case decided by Eadea was unusual in that there was an eyewitness who claimed to see the defendant actively texting at the time of the accident. Although the defendant maintained that she only texted at a stop light, another motorist said she saw the defendant continue to text after the light turned green and that the defendant almost hit the witness' vehicle before she hit the plaintiff's vehicle.

The Daily Business Review further notes that Florida is currently one of 11 states that does not have a ban on texting while driving. 

Posted by Bruce Carton on September 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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