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Thomas v. McDonald

667 So. 2d 594 (1995)

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Thomas v. McDonald

Mississippi Supreme Court

667 So. 2d 594 (1995)

Facts

Around dusk one evening, a medium-sized flatbed commercial truck owned by DAPSCO, Inc. (defendant) and driven by McDonald (defendant) stalled on a hill, blocking the entire lane of a state highway. The truck’s engine stopped, and all of the truck’s lights stopped working. The truck had no reflectors, warning lights, or other indicators to warn oncoming drivers of the truck’s location. Shortly thereafter, a vehicle driven by McCormick (plaintiff) crashed into the rear of the truck, causing McCormick serious injuries. McCormick filed a negligence suit against the defendants. After the close of all the evidence, the trial judge refused to instruct the jury that the defendants’ failure to place warning signals on the highway was negligence per se pursuant to a state law mandating trucks to not operate on a highway between the hours of one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour prior to sunrise, unless the truck had reflectors, flares, or warning lights. The jury held for the defendants. Thereafter, McCormick died of causes unrelated to his injuries, and Thomas, the administrator of McCormick’s estate, was substituted as party plaintiff. After the close of all the evidence, the trial judge refused to instruct the jury that the defendants’ failure to place warning signals on the highway was negligence per se pursuant to a state law requiring trucks that are stopped in the roadway and that cannot be immediately removed to deploy such devices. It also refused to instruct the jury that the defendants were negligent per se pursuant to a state law prohibiting trucks from operating on a highway between the hours of one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour prior to sunrise, unless the truck had reflectors, flares, or warning lights. The jury held for the defendants. Thomas appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McRae, J.)

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