Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Directed Verdict Affirmed in Car Collision Suit

Two cars collided cruising through the parking lot, but to establish a driver's negligence and legal liability for damages, more is needed than merely evidence (or agreement) that an accident did indeed occur. Court of Appeals panel holds that trial court properly granted directed verdict where there was no showing of negligence on the part of the defendant.

Analysis by Justice Guzman, who wrote the opinion:

To prevail on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove the existence of a legal duty, a breach of that duty, and damages proximately caused by the breach. D. Houston, Inc. v. Love, 92 S.W.3d 450, 454 (Tex. 2002). Here, Murchison presented less than a scintilla of evidence that Pham breached a duty to Murchison. To the contrary, the evidence is uncontroverted that a car was parked in a way that impaired Pham's view, and the collision occurred suddenly while Pham was “inching" forward to see beyond this obstruction. There is no evidence that either driver could have seen the other in time to avoid an accident, even given the low speed at which Walsh admits Pham was traveling.

On this record, any inference that Pham breached a duty to Murchison would be based solely on the fact that a collision occurred. The occurrence of a motor vehicle accident is not itself, however, evidence of negligence. Smith v. Cent. Freight Lines, Inc., 774 S.W.2d 411, 412 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 1989, writ denied). We therefore overrule Murchison's sole issue on appeal.

V. Conclusion

Because Murchison failed to present legally sufficient evidence of negligence, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Murchison v. Pham (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 11, 2009) (Guzman) (no negligence demonstrated in car collision suit, directed verdict affirmed)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Eva Guzman
Before Justices Anderson, Guzman and Boyce
14-08-00080-CV Gary Murchison v. Minh Quoc Pham
Appeal from 80th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court
Judge: Hon. Lynn Bradshaw-Hull

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