Packard v. Falls City Area Jaycees, et al.: Motions to Dismiss in Car Accident Litigation

Attorneys who handle car accident lawsuits in Boston understand that these cases may involve a substantial amount of pretrial litigation.

1099135_motorcycle_-_blur_focus.jpgPackard v. Falls City Area Jaycees, et al., involves a deadly collision between a motorcycle and a pickup truck. This motor vehicle accident occurred at the entrance to a demolition derby and tractor pull at a public event facility in Nebraska.

According to the record, the defendants were aware that traffic would be unusually heavy on the night of the accident due to flooding, a bridge closure, and the demolition derby event.

In order to gain access to the event, attendees would have to cross the highway and make a left turn into the entrance gate. At previous events at this facility, there were police or civilian employees directing traffic. One the night of the demolition derby, there was nobody directing traffic.

The driver of a pickup truck was traveling down the highway and crossed the highway in order to make the left turn to gain entrance to the demolition derby. Once he had crossed the highway, a motorcycle ran into the side of the pickup truck. The motorcycle driver was killed. His surviving spouse and executrix (the term for a female executor) of his estate filed a wrongful death action under a theory of negligence against the pickup truck driver and various other defendants.

Prior to trial, the plaintiff settled with the driver of the pickup and the remaining defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In Massachusetts, Failure to State a Claim is governed by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
A 12(b)(6) is a motion to dismiss, which is similar to a motion for summary judgment, as we have discussed in other blog entries. The main difference is that the 12(b)(6) motion is filed in response to a complaint and cannot not include any affidavits or additional evidence. If any additional evidence is included with the defendant’s motion, it will be converted to a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.

Basically, this is a motion that says that even if we were to believe everything in the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant did nothing that would make them liable to the plaintiff. In a negligence case, the normal reason for filing this type of motion to dismiss is to show that the defendant did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff.

In any negligence action, in order to recover damages, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm to foreseeable persons or property, breached that duty of care, that the breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and that there were damages suffered by the plaintiff. If the defendant did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, then that defendant cannot be liable for negligence.

In Packard, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

If you are injured in in Massachusetts, call Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers for a free and confidential appointment: (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Packard v. Falls City Area Jaycees, et al., July 17, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Estate of Sholberg v. Truman – Fatal Car Accident Caused by Stray Horse, July 17, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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