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Pipher v. Parsell

Delaware Supreme Court 
930 A.2d 890 (2007)


Facts

Pipher (plaintiff) was a passenger in Parsell’s (defendant) truck along with another passenger, Beisel. All three were sitting on the front seat with Pipher in the middle. While traveling at a speed of 55 mph, Beisel unexpectedly grabbed the steering wheel and caused the truck to veer onto the shoulder of the road. Shocked and surprised, Parsell did not expect Beisel to grab the steering wheel a second time. Parsell did nothing in response to Beisel’s actions. Approximately thirty seconds later, Beisel again grabbed the wheel, causing the truck to leave the road and strike a tree. Pipher was injured in the collision and sued Parsell for negligence. At trial, Parsell acknowledged that he could have warned Beisel not to take the wheel or threatened to remove him from the vehicle. The trial judge reasoned that a reasonable driver would not expect a passenger to grab the wheel a second time. Thus, the court held that Parsell had no duty to admonish Beisel for his actions. The trial court further held, as matter of law, that Parnell’s failure to admonish Beisel could not be considered the proximate cause of Pipher’s injuries. Accordingly, the trial court dismissed Pipher’s claims. Pipher appealed to the Supreme Court of Delaware.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holland, J.)

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