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Satterlee v. Orange Glenn School District of San Diego County

177 P.2d 279 (1947)

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Satterlee v. Orange Glenn School District of San Diego County

California Supreme Court

177 P.2d 279 (1947)

Facts

G. E. Satterlee (plaintiff) and his wife were driving northbound on Citrus Drive. A school bus of Orange Glenn School District of San Diego County (the district) (defendant) was traveling westbound on Bear Valley Road. The vehicles were approaching each other perpendicularly at the intersection of the two roads. There was disputed evidence regarding whether the bus driver sped up prior to approaching the intersection so he would reach it before Satterlee. The two vehicles collided at the intersection, resulting in the death of Satterlee’s wife. Satterlee sued the school district to recover damages for the death of his wife and injuries to his person and property. California law held that a driver approaching an intersection must yield the right of way to vehicles already in the intersection from another public road. The code also stated that if both cars approach the intersection at the same time, the car on the left must yield to the car on the right. The school district sought a jury instruction that would tell the jury to find for whichever car entered the intersection first or, if the cars entered at the same time, to find for the car on the right. The trial court refused to read such jury instructions and instead instructed that the right of way is not an absolute right to barge through the intersection and disregard the safety of other drivers. The trial court further asked the jury what a reasonably prudent person would do in that situation. The jury found for Satterlee despite the school district’s assertion of contributory negligence. The school district appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Edmonds, J.)

Dissent (Carter, J.)

Dissent (Traynor, J.)

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