Chin v. Greninger
A court can credit eyewitness testimony that, more probably than not, the plaintiff's decision to jump off a moving motor vehicle proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries, as opposed to the defendant driver's negligence. In July 2006, Fairfield University students concerned about "pink eye" decided to visit the health center. The defendant driver had room in his Jeep for one passenger in the front passenger seat and two passengers in the back seat. The plaintiff and another student, Vlad, sat on top of the retracted convertible top. Vlad asked the defendant driver to stop, so he could exit the Jeep. The driver stopped, and Vlad exited. Vlad allegedly observed the plaintiff, Iman Chin, as he jumped and struck his head on the concrete pavement. Allegedly, the plaintiff broke his skull and went to St. Vincent's Medical Center. The plaintiff has no recollection of the Jeep or his exit from the Jeep. The plaintiff sued the defendant driver, alleging that the defendant unexpectedly accelerated the Jeep, when Chin was in the process of exiting, or, alternatively, that the defendant drove erratically, causing Chin to fall. Vlad, the only eyewitness who recalls the motor-vehicle accident, testified that Chin did not immediately observe Vlad's exit, because Chin was talking to friends, and when Chin realized that Vlad had exited, Chin intentionally jumped from the Jeep and fell when he landed. The other witnesses signed statements that indicated that the driver did not drive very quickly. The court found that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant driver unexpectedly accelerated the Jeep or drove erratically. "More probably than not," wrote the court, "the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries was a result of his attempt to jump off the rear of a vehicle moving forward and not because of any erratic driving by the defendant operator." The court granted judgment to the defendant driver.