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Home / Opinions / 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals / 8th - Published Civil Opinions / Negligence Auto Accident; Proximate Causation; Intervening Cause
14-2981 Baumann v. Zhukov, appealed from the, District of Nebraska, Loken, J.

Negligence Auto Accident; Proximate Causation; Intervening Cause

 

Where a family of four died when a truck crashed into their two vehicles while they were stopped in a nearly mile-long traffic jam caused by an accident that occurred when a truck’s equipment failed and another truck hit it while it was stopped, and the plaintiff administrators brought negligence claims against the trucking companies involved in the initial collision, the district court properly granted summary judgment to these defendants because the negligence of the truck driver who crashed into the family’s vehicles was an “efficient intervening cause,” which severed any causal connection between the negligence of the defendants and the family’s injuries.

Dissenting opinion by Bye, J.: “In secondary-accident cases, the issue is typically whether the negligent act that caused the second accident was so extraordinary it was not foreseeable to the first negligent driver. I do not believe this is the type of case which compels only one reasonable conclusion on foreseeability. The traffic jam Zhukov and Johnson caused was unremarkable — traffic backed up for less than a mile, and only forty minutes had passed by the time Slezak crashed into the Schmidts. The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning, when a reasonable person could expect highways to be saturated with truck drivers, some inattentive from lack of sleep. Under these circumstances, and in this unsettled area of Nebraska law, I would decline to hold as a matter of law that Slezak’s negligence was so extraordinary that it was an ‘efficient intervening cause’ which severed the causal connection between Zhukov’s and Johnson’s negligent conduct and the death of the Schmidts.”

Judgment is affirmed.

14-2981 Baumann v. Zhukov, appealed from the, District of Nebraska, Loken, J.


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