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Follett v. Jones

Arkansas Supreme Court
481 S.W.2d 713 (1972)


Facts

Frank Follett (plaintiff) was driving his car when he collided with a pickup truck driven by Chauncy Jones (defendant). Jones was hospitalized with broken ribs, cuts, bruises, and a head injury. When his chest was x-rayed in the hospital, Jones was found to have terminal lung cancer. Jones died 17 days after the accident. The cause of death reported on his autopsy was cancer. Jones’s widow sued Follett for the wrongful death of her husband. At trial, a doctor testified that although cancer would have eventually killed Jones, Jones died from a combination of the cancer and the accident. That doctor and another doctor testified that the accident hastened Jones’s death. A jury found Follett negligent in causing the collision with Jones. The jury also found that the accident was the cause in fact of Jones’s death and awarded damages for wrongful death to Jones’s widow. Follett appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in not issuing a directed verdict in his favor, because the evidence did not show that the collision was the cause in fact of Jones’s death. Follett also argued that the jury’s wrongful-death finding was speculative, because there was no evidence relating to the amount of time by which the accident shortened Jones’s life.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holt, J.)

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