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Foster v. Strutz

Supreme Court of Iowa
636 N.W.2d 104 (2001)


Facts

Vince Akrum and Cassandra Strutz (defendants) were sitting in a vehicle parked in a lot when they were attacked by several young men. During the attack, one of the assailants struck the vehicle’s gearshift, shifting the vehicle into reverse. Strutz, believing the vehicle to be in drive, put her foot on the accelerator. However, because the vehicle was actually in reverse, the vehicle began moving backward and smashed the foot of Valerie Foster (plaintiff), who was trying to avoid the oncoming vehicle by hopping into the back of her own pickup truck. After these events, Foster brought a suit against Akrum and Strutz, alleging that the defendants’ negligent conduct had caused Foster’s injuries. In district court, Akrum and Strutz requested that the jury be given the more lenient sudden-emergency instruction on the issue of negligence instead of the typical reasonable-person standard. The district court refused to give the more lenient instruction, finding that the events leading to the accident did not qualify as a sudden emergency. Strutz and Akrum appealed the decision, and the court of appeals reversed, finding that the sudden-emergency instruction should have been given. Foster appealed the decision of the court of appeals, arguing that the district court’s refusal to give the instruction was correct.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Larson, J.)

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