Update: two personal-responsibility cases

Updating a case covered on Mar. 28, 2000: a Texas court of appeals earlier this year reversed an award of $43 million (voted as $65 million by the jury, then reduced by the trial judge) against Honda to the survivors of a woman who accidentally rolled her car off a boat ramp into Galveston Bay and at autopsy was found to have .17 alcohol in her bloodstream. Her survivors argued that she was trapped in the sinking car by her seat belt, but the appeals court said they had not shown that any alternative belt design would have been any safer overall. Incidentally, this particular Galveston boozy pier roll-off award is guaranteed to be a different case entirely from the Galveston boozy pier roll-off award discussed in this space Aug. 28, in which the city of Galveston and its pier lessee were supposedly the ones to blame, the verdict came in at $10.5 million, and an appeals court again threw it out (Mary Alice Robbins, “Texas Court Reverses $43M Judgment Against Automaker”, Texas Lawyer, Feb. 19).

In an even more belated update, pool owners in Massachusetts were given a reason to heave a sigh of relief when the plaintiff cited in our Jan. 24, 2000 item, an experienced swimmer of 21 years old, lost his appeal before the state’s highest court in which he had argued that his girlfriend’s grandparents should have warned him not to dive into the shallow end (Pierce, Davis & Perritano, LLP, “Open and Obvious Danger Doctrine Reaffirmed”, Winter 2001; for details of case see also Cathleen F. Crowley, “Court decision could impact pool owners”, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Jan. 4, 2000).

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